Aston Martin shares debuted on the London Stocks Exchange Wednesday as the first U.K.-listed automaker in nearly three decades, but the luxury brand's shares skidded amid questions over its ambition challenge to European rivals Porsche and Ferrari.
Aston Martin shares were ultimately priced at £19 a share prior to the start of trading on the LSE, giving the Gaydon, England-based group a market value of £4.33 billion ($5.6 billion). With key investors from Italy and Kuwait, as well as other private stakeholders, selling around 25% of their holdings to the market, no new cash will be raised from the listing, a factor which may have influenced the lower-than-expected debut price and the 4% decline the shares booked in early London trading.
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"Today's listing on the London Stock Exchange represents a historic milestone for Aston Martin Lagonda," CEO Andy Palmer said in a statement. "We are delighted by the positive response we have received from investors across the world and are very pleased to welcome our new shareholders to the register."
Aston Martin shares rose modestly from their IPO price in the opening minutes of trading to change hands at £19.14 each before fading to £18.38 in a move that values the carmaker at around £4.2 billion ($5.5 billion). It's the first London listing of a U.K. carmaker since Jaguar, which debuted in 1984 and left the market when it was acquired by Ford Motor Co. (F - Get Report) in 1990.
Palmer has added new life to the luxury brand -- which earned global fame form its placement in the James Bond film franchise -- since he was appointed CEO in 2014. Aston Martin hopes to shift as many as 6,400 units this year and achieve an operating earnings margin of around 23%, a figure he hopes to boost to 30% over the near term.
Investors have had some concerns over Aston Martin's ability to take on rival Ferrari, the iconic luxury Italian carmaker which floated on the New York Stock Exchange in 2015, and the uncertainties surrounding Britain's auto industry as it prepares for life outside of the European Union next year.
Ferrari has a market value of $26 billion an annual sales of around $4.2 billion, nearly twice that of Aston Martin's estimated £1.2 billion target. Ferrari's average selling price of around €219,000 is also slightly superior to Aston Martin's, as is is operating margin and debt-to-earnings ratio.
Aston Martin's IPO prospectus, which is intended to lay out both the risks and the potential of any new investment, cautioned that an restrictions on sales to the EU, where is generates around a fifth of its revenues, in the event of a so-called hard Brexit from the block, would have a "significant adverse effect" on the group's bottom line.
It also said that a majority of its suppliers are located in EU member states, and noted that "fiscal or other restrictions" on the free movement of goods could impact its supply chain. It also referenced the threat of tariffs from U.S. President Donald Trump, although his vow to slap a 25% levy on European-made cars has stalled since he opened trade talks with EU Commission President Jean Claude Juncker over the summer.