Image source: Ferrari S.p.A.

What: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (NYSE:FCAU) has released a prospectus for the initial public offering of its most famous subsidiary -- supercar maker Ferrari. 

The prospectus says that FCA, which owns 90% of Ferrari, will sell about 10% of its stake in a public offering at an expected price of between $48 and $52 per share. At $52, Ferrari would have a market cap of $9.8 billion and an enterprise value of around $12.1 billion. 

FCA shares rose about 2% on the news in trading in Europe on Monday.

So what: FCA chief Sergio Marchionne has long maintained that Ferrari is worth about 10 billion euros, a number that gives the sports-car company a valuation well above most automakers' -- but roughly in line with premier luxury-goods companies.

Ferrari earned 389 million euros ($439.2 million) before interest and taxes in 2014, on net revenue of 2.762 billion euros ($3.1 billion). An enterprise value of $12.1 billion (or 10.6 billion euros) values Ferrari at about 27.2 times its 2014 EBIT.

That's about double the value that most automakers are given by the market. But it's not outrageous for a luxury-goods company, and there's a solid argument to be made that Ferrari deserves a luxury-goods valuation.

But for investors, the big question around Ferrari has been this: Given that the company limits its own production to preserve exclusivity, how will it generate earnings growth over time? It's possible that another well-run automaker with a luxury focus like BMW (NASDAQOTH:BAMXF) will represent a much better long-term bet, because of the possibility of growth. 

That's a question that Ferrari's management will have to answer before -- and after -- the IPO.

Now what: Ferrari's "roadshow" is said to be starting this week. A "roadshow" is a series of presentations to investors and analysts aimed at drumming up interest in an IPO. Those presentations are generally not made public. But details often leak, and if so, I'll share any points of interest in a future article.

The IPO is expected to happen early next year. As noted above, about 10% of FCA's stake will be sold via the IPO. It's likely that the cachet of the Ferrari name will generate strong interest among investors, meaning that shares may be hard to come by at the offering price.

But there's another way in: FCA's remaining shares -- representing roughly 80% of Ferrari -- will be transferred to FCA shareholders. If you want a piece of the Ferrari IPO, your best bet might be to grab some FCA stock soonish. That's probably part of the reason why FCA's share price jumped on Monday.

But an even better bet might be to wait a bit, until we know more about the future plans for the storied Italian sports-car maker.

John Rosevear has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.