Peugeot says economic tailwinds may speed recovery plan

By Laurence Frost

PARIS (Reuters) – PSA Peugeot Citroen (PEUP.PA) could reach its main recovery goal early, its chief financial officer said on Monday, as the French carmaker’s shares rejoined the benchmark CAC-40 (.FCHI) index after a two-and-a-half-year absence.

Peugeot will “go after the 2 percent operating margin objective as soon as possible”, Jean-Baptiste de Chatillon said before ringing the opening bell in Paris.

A weaker euro and cheaper raw materials constitute “a more favourable alignment of the planets” than was assumed when Peugeot pledged last year to restore auto-division profitability to a 2 percent margin by 2018, the finance chief said.

Peugeot shares sank 4.7 percent last week after a March 17 investor day at the company’s main research and development centre outside Paris, with some analysts saying the market expected greater ambition.

“In a bull market it seems people quickly come to expect bigger and bolder and faster and higher,” Bernstein analyst Max Warburton said. “But we mustn’t forget that PSA has only been out of intensive care for a short while.”

The shares were down a further 1.6 percent at 15.54 euros less than three hours after Peugeot’s return to the CAC-40, which had been announced on March 5.

(Additional reporting by Gilles Guillaume; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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