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Record year for Ferrari as brand turns 70

Italian luxury carmaker Ferrari said on Thursday it had achieved record profits in 2016, bolstered by strong demand for its supercharged 488 sports cars, a fillip to the "prancing horse" firm as it prepares to turn 70.

Record year for Ferrari as brand turns 70
File photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP

The company announced better than expected net profits soared 38 percent to 400 million euros ($430 million), 110 million up on 2015 and outstripping analysts' forecasts of nearer 390 million, amid an 8.8 percent rise in sales to 3.1 billion euros.

Traders received the news well on the Milan bourse as the automaker's share price rose 3.73 percent to 59.75 euros – an all-time closing high, prompting CEO Sergio Marchionne to salute “a good year” as he targeted production of 10,000 units for 2020-2025.

“We are satisfied with the progress we have made,” said Marchionne, saluting a focus on keeping costs under control to bolster operating margin.

“This achievement was led by the success of both the 488 GTB and the 488 Spider,” sports cars, the company said in a statement.

The results were Ferrari's first as a stand-alone company after it split from former parent company Fiat Chrysler and came as it posted shipments topping 8,000 vehicles – an annual rise of 4.6 percent beyond the 7,700 figure for 2015.

Europe and the Middle East saw sales progress 7.7 percent although the rise
was just one percent in China after Ferrari ended a partnership with a Hong
Kong distributor in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (Ebitda) rose an annualized 17.6 percent to 880 million euros, ahead of a target of 850 million, while net debt fell to 653 million euros from 797 million.

70th anniversary

Ferrari is targeting sales topping 3.3 billion euros in 2017 with debt levels ramped down still further to around 500 million euros, according to the “prudent” hopes of Marchionne, who rejected chasing “unrealistic targets.”

He added he wanted the group to remain faithful to its image as a luxury sports car maker, to maintain the purity of the brand.

While seeking to broaden the base of the producer's clientele, Marchionne said he was not targeting a “huge tribe, but a manageable tribe,” of customers to ensure that Ferrari could surpass 10,000 annual sales “without disrupting the DNA of the brand.”

Ferraris are priced from around 200,000 to 450,000 euros.

The group was founded by Enzo Ferrari in 1947, and will this year celebrate its 70th anniversary.

Regarding Formula One racing, Marchionne said Ferrari had begun “exploring the opportunity of acquiring a participation” and had held talks on the subject with new owner Liberty Media.

US-based Liberty Media recently completed its takeover of motorsport's most prestigious brand in a deal valued at about $8 billion.

But Marchionne urged caution given that a Formula One revenue-sharing accord between team owners expires in three years time.

By Celine Cornu

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MONEY

How to avoid huge ‘roaming’ phone bills while visiting Italy

If you're visiting Italy from outside the EU you risk running up a huge phone bill in roaming charges - but there are ways to keep your internet access while avoiding being hit by extra charges.

How to avoid huge ‘roaming’ phone bills while visiting Italy

Travelling without access to the internet is almost impossible these days. We use our phones for mapping applications, contacting the Airbnb, even scanning the QR code for the restaurant menu.

If you’re lucky enough to have a phone registered in an EU country then you don’t need to worry, thanks to the EU’s cap on charges for people travelling, but people visiting from non-EU countries – which of course now includes the UK – need to be careful with their phone use abroad.

First things first, if you are looking to avoid roaming charges, be sure to go into your settings and turn off “data roaming.” Do it right before your plane lands or your train arrives – you don’t want to risk the phone company in your home country starting the clock on ‘one day of roaming fees’ without knowing it.

READ ALSO: Ten ways to save money on your trip to Italy this summer

But these days travelling without internet access can be difficult and annoying, especially as a growing number of tourist attractions require booking in advance online, while restaurants often display their menus on a QR code.

So here are some techniques to keep the bills low.

Check your phone company’s roaming plan

Before leaving home, check to see what your phone plan offers for pre-paid roaming deals.

For Brits, if you have a phone plan with Three for example, you can ask about their “Go Roam” plan for add-on allowance. You can choose to pay monthly or as you go. Vodafone offers eight day and 15 day passes that are available for £1 a day.

For Americans, T-Mobile offers you to add an “international pass” which will charge you $5 per day. Verizon and AT&T’s roaming plans will charge you $10 per day. For AT&T, you are automatically opted into this as soon as your phone tries to access data abroad.

READ ALSO: Seven things to do in Italy in summer 2022

These all allow you to retain your normal phone number and plan.

Beware that these prices are only available if you sign up in advance, otherwise you will likely be facing a much bigger bill for using mobile data in Italy. 

Buy a pre-paid SIM card

However, if you are travelling for a longer period of time it might work out cheaper to turn off your phone data and buy a pre-paid SIM card in Italy.

In order to get a pre-paid SIM card, you will need your passport or proof of identity (drivers’ licences do not count).

READ ALSO: TRAVEL: Why now’s the best time to discover Italy’s secret lakes and mountains

Keep in mind that you will not be able to use your normal phone number with the new SIM card in, but will be able to access your internet enabled messaging services, like WhatsApp, Facebook and iMessage. Your phone will need to be ‘unlocked’ (ask your carrier about whether yours is) in order to put a new SIM card in.

Here are some of the plans you can choose from:

WindTre

WindTre, the result of a 2020 merger between the Italian company Wind and the UK network provider Three, currently offers a “Tourist Pass” SIM card for foreign nationals. For €24.99 (it’s sneakily marketed as €14.99, but read the small print and you’ll see you need to fork out an additional €10), you’ll have access to 20GB of data for up to 30 days.

The offer includes 100 minutes of calls within Italy plus an additional 100 minutes to 55 foreign countries listed on the WindTre website. Up to 13.7GB can be used for roaming within the EU. The card is automatically deactivated after 30 days, so there’s no need to worry about surprise charges after you return from your holiday. To get this SIM card, you can go into any WindTre store and request it.

A tourist protects herself from the sun with a paper umbrella as she walks at Piazza di Spagna near the Spanish Steps in Rome.
A tourist protects herself from the sun with a paper umbrella as she walks at Piazza di Spagna near the Spanish Steps in Rome.

Vodafone

Vodafone has had better deals in the past, but lately appears to have downgraded its plan for tourists, now called “Vodafone Holiday” (formerly “Dolce Vita”), to a paltry 2GB for €30. You get a total of 300 minutes of calls and 300 texts to Italian numbers or to your home country; EU roaming costs €3 per day.

Existing Vodafone customers can access the offer by paying €19 – the charge will be made to your Vodafone SIM within 72 hours of activating the deal. 

READ ALSO: MAP: The best Italian villages to visit this year

The Vodafone Holiday offer automatically renews every four weeks for €29 – in order to cancel you’ll need to call a toll-free number. The Vodafone website says that the €30 includes the first renewal, suggesting the payment will cover the first four weeks plus an additional four after that, but you’ll want to double check before buying. You’ll need to go to a store in person to get the card.

TIM

TIM is one of Italy’s longest-standing and most well-established network providers, having been founded in 1994 following a merger between several state-owned companies.

The “Tim Tourist” SIM card costs €20 for 15GB of data and 200 minutes of calls within Italy and to 58 foreign countries, and promises “no surprises” when it comes to charges.

You can use the full 15GB when roaming within the EU at no extra charge, and in the EU can use your minutes to call Italian numbers. The deal is non-renewable, so at the end of the 30 days you won’t be charged any additional fees.

READ ALSO: MAP: Which regions of Italy have the most Blue Flag beaches?

To access the offer, you can either buy it directly from a TIM store in Italy, or pre-order using an online form and pay with your bank card. Once you’ve done this, you’ll receive a PIN which you should be able to present at any TIM store on arrival in Italy (along with your ID) to collect your pre-paid card. The card won’t be activated until you pick it up.

Iliad

Iliad is the newest and one of the most competitive of the four major phone companies operating in Italy, and currently has an offer of 120GBP of €9.99 a month. For this reason, some travel blogs recommend Iliad as the best choice for foreigners – but unfortunately all of their plans appear to require an Italian tax ID, which rules it out as an option for tourists.

Contract

Though buying a pre-paid SIM card is a very useful option for visitors spending a decent amount of time in Italy, as mentioned above, there’s a significant different difference between buying a one-time pre-paid SIM versus a monthly plan that auto-renews.

Make sure you know which one you’re signing up for, and that if you choose a plan that will continue charging you after your vacation has ended, you remember to cancel it.

UK contracts

If you have a UK-registered mobile phone, check your plan carefully before travelling. Before Brexit, Brits benefited from the EU cap on roaming charges, but this no longer applies.

Some phone companies have announced the return of roaming charges, while others have not, or only apply roaming charges only on certain contracts.

In short, check before you set off and don’t assume that because you have never been charged extra before, you won’t be this time.

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