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Business

Ferrari floors it at Wall Street debut

The iconic sports car maker has roared onto the New York Stock Exchange. The RACE stock got off to a strong start on its first day of trading, ending firmly above the opening price and raising nearly $1 billion.

Ferrari got off to a roaring start as the Italian sports car maker went public on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday.

The hotly anticipated share, which is fittingly being traded under the stock name RACE, had been priced top of its marketed range at $52 (46 euros), but shot up 17 percent past $60 at the sound of the opening bell. At the end of trading, the share price stood strong at $55, up 5.8 percent.

Outside on Wall Street, crowds lined up to salivate over the luxury fleet - ranging from a Formula One racing car to a Ferrari 250 - parked outside the stock exchange.

Historic opportunity

For avid fans, Wednesday marks a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own a small piece of the cult car, conceived in the Northern Italian town of Maranello in 1947 by former race driver Enzo Ferrari.

"I will probably never be able to afford a Ferrari, but if I manage to buy some shares, I could at least say I'm part of the Ferrari story, something Italian that you can be proud of," Alessia Scipione, a 38-year-old translator from Pescara, central Italy, told Reuters.

Keeping it exclusive

But with just 17.2 million shares on offer, representing around 10 percent of the company, analysts say demand far outstrips supply. Italian-American owner Fiat Chrysler hopes this could help push the value of the brand past the $10-billion mark.

Experts have praised Chairman Sergio Marchionne's decision to keep the offering exclusive, reflecting the tried-and-tested strategy Ferrari has also deployed with its cars, and which has helped fuel the legend surrounding the brand.

"This is not really a car. It's a unique expression of art and technology - very exclusive, very properly priced," Machionne said at the opening in New York.

Ferrari shipped just over 7,000 new cars last year, and that number's expected to increase to no more than 9,000 by 2019. In comparison, rival Porsche delivered close to 190,000 in 2014.

"What is at the heart of the brand is this intimate relationship between us and the customer base. We have 60 percent of the people that buy our cars every year are returning customers. And therefore it would be almost suicidal to try and expand volumes to the detriment of that relationship."

The IPO is key to Fiat Chrysler's plans to expand its global market share. By injecting $48 billion into the development of its other brands - especially Alfa Romeo, Jeep and Maserati - the owner aims to increase sales to seven million vehicles per year.

The listing will leave Fiat Chrysler with around 80 percent of Ferrari, which the parent company intends to spin off completely by the beginning of next year.

pad/hg (AP, AFP, Reuters)