Ferrari seems to be holding up well in the global recession, according to figures announced this week. Its market share is up, consolidated revenues fell just 7% in 2009 and overall operating profit stood at a juicy €245m. Not a bad performance in the biggest economic downturn for generations.
Ferrari operates in the upper echelons of the premium sports car market: serious stuff with at least 450bhp and a minimum €140,000 price tag. This sector collapsed by 35% last year as footballers, WAGs and City types reined in their spending, but Maranello said its share of this shrinking market jumped 10% to 30%. However, Ferrari deliveries dropped by 5% to 6250 vehicles.
So big pats on the back all round in Modena. But as with all company results, delve deeper and the figures paint an interesting picture.
Ferrari global sales: like an earthquake aftershock
The problem with Ferrari's seemingly rosy figures is the timelag between orders and deliveries; 2009's deliveries represents historic, rather than current, sales. Don't forget the waiting list for a Ferrari is typically 12-24 months, depending on model. Cars delivered in 2009 were mostly ordered between 2006 and 2008, and Ferrari doesn't see a penny until customer delivery is completed – deposits of between 10-20% are typically held by the dealer until the happy owner receives the keys.
And Ferrari’s 7% dip in consolidated revenue is skewed by rises in licensing and retail income, softening any drop in monies received from car sales. Despite requests, individual revenue figures for each of Ferrari’s activities are not currently made available.
Ferrari: the bottom line
The most eye-catching figure reported by Ferrari is its 2009 operating profit of €245m. That’s down 28% on 2008's figure. If this fall is the result of a decrease in vehicles sold in 2009, this will be affecting the bottom line until the last of those cars is delivered around 2012.
According to independent, third-party data seen by CAR, Ferrari officially registered 452 new cars in the UK last year, down around 30% on 2008's figure of 644. Its biggest seller was the F430 range (193 cars registered), followed by the California (180), 599 (it sold 62) and finally the ageing 612 Scaglietti (13 shifted).
But the actual total number of cars sold by Ferrari GB is in fact considerably higher – around 500 – as it deals with UK-based international clients who may register their cars overseas and it also sells track cars such as the Challenge racer and 599XX. These sales may not show up in the official DVLA or SMMT data, yet the UK remains a top five market for Ferrari.
So Ferrari's not about to go bust?
Not at all. Operating profits may be down, but we should place this in context: 2008 was Ferrari’s most financially successful year ever. The company has also been investing heavily to increase future revenue streams, which will undoubtedly be responsible for a share of the damage.
Ferrari says it will ride the storm of exchange rate fluctuations, particularly the value of the dollar (they sell a third of their products in the US). And the new 458 Italia is already commanding big premiums and sparking long queues. The prancing horse should remain desirable when the world returns to affluence and it's quietly developing a range of hybrid models.