What: Shares of Ferrari (NYSE:RACE) fell sharply after the company released its full-year 2015 earnings report and guidance for 2016 on Tuesday. The Italian supercar maker's shares closed at $34.97, down 12.4%.
So what: Much of what Ferrari reported on Tuesday was good news: 2015 was the company's best year ever in terms of sales. Ferrari's net income for the full year jumped 9.4% to 290 million euros on a solid 6% gain in shipments and a nice improvement in pricing.
So, what's not to like? This: The company's guidance for 2016 was very conservative, calling for just 3.3% growth in shipments, a thin 2.9% increase in adjusted EBIDTA, and only a small drop in its net debt load. What's more, it expected nearly all of that growth to come from the U.S. and Europe, it said, with sales in China likely to be flat year over year.
To some extent, this is the challenge facing Ferrari now that it's a public company. The company limits its production to preserve its exclusivity and pricing power. While CEO Sergio Marchionne said on Tuesday that Ferrari's production will slowly move upward from 7,664 vehicles in 2015 to about 9,000 in 2019, the company's projected 2016 results clearly disappointed its new investors.
Now what: Ferrari is arguably the greatest car brand of all time, and it's a solidly profitable company. But that greatness and sold profits don't necessarily translate into a business growth-minded investors will want to own over time. Ferrari just went public in October (at $52, incidentally), and the bulk of its shares were distributed to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (NYSE:FCAU) shareholders at the beginning of January. In other words, all of Ferrari's shareholders are new ones, and this was its first earnings report as a fully independent company. It's not surprising that some of those new shareholders decided to sell and move on.
I think the company's stock is continuing to find its own level in the market. Until it does, until investors are clear on what to expect (and what not to expect) from Ferrari, I'm inclined to steer clear of it as an investment.