General Motors Reports First Annual Profit Since 2004

General MotorsIn an impressive comeback from bankruptcy, General Motors (GM) last year posted its first annual profit since 2004.

GM's net income totaled $4.7 billion last year, fueled by strong sales in China and the U.S. as the global auto market began to recover. It earned $2.89 per share on revenue of $135.6 billion.

It was the company's best performance since earning $6 billion in 1999 during the height of the pickup truck and sport utility vehicle sales boom.

The performance, while beating Wall Street expectations, didn't help GM's stock price, which fell more than 4 percent Thursday afternoon to $32.75, below November's initial public offering price of $33 per share.

David Whiston, an auto analyst with Morningstar, said fears about the impact of $4 per gallon gasoline on a company traditionally known for selling SUVs and trucks and talk of GM's aging model lineup are possible reasons.

Still, GM's full-year profit is remarkable considering that from 2004 through 2009, GM was in a state of perpetual restructuring, trying to downsize its work force and shrink factory capacity to match falling demand for its vehicles. The company lost more than $80 billion during the period and almost ran out of cash in 2008, when the government began a bailout that eventually reached $49.5 billion.

With government financing, GM went into bankruptcy protection in June 2009, leaving a quick 40 days later cleansed of burdensome debt and labor costs. It lost $4.4 billion in the second half of 2009, but began making money as auto sales started to recover last year. It posted $4.2 billion in profits during the first nine months, helped by its lower costs and new models such as the Chevrolet Equinox - a small SUV that seats five.

It touted the profits to convince investors to buy stock in the revamped company. It then returned to the stock market in its IPO in November.

"Last year was one of foundation building," Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson said Thursday. In fact, GM showed it could turn profits consistently - for four straight quarters in 2010 - even though demand for cars still remained relatively low.

For the fourth quarter, GM reported net income of $510 million, or 31 cents per share, its lowest quarterly profit of the year, but still far better than the $3.5 billion it lost in the same period in 2009.

The net income included $400 million in charges for paying preferred stock dividends and buying preferred shares from the U.S. government. Without the charges, the company earned 52 cents, beating Wall Street's estimates. Analysts polled by FactSet expected 49 cents per share.

Revenue for the quarter totaled $36.9 billion, also beating analysts' estimates of $34.3 billion.

GM still faces a challenging 2011 with an aging U.S. model lineup, rising gas prices that could cut into truck sales and a European unit that must be restructured to turn a profit.

This year will be one of transition for GM, which has only a few new vehicles slated, said Citigroup Global Markets analyst Itay Michaeli. In the U.S., sales generally wane as models grow older.

The company, he said, had a market share of just over 20 percent in the last quarter of the year, and that rose to 21.8 percent in January as GM increased incentives such as rebates and low-interest loans.

Michaeli said his surveys show that February should run above analysts' expectations of 18.5 percent, a sign that GM has enough momentum to carry it through the year with its current model lineup.

"Hopefully they'll continue to run at a higher market share without having to use more incentives," he said.

GM Chief Financial Officer Chris Liddell said the company's U.S. incentives dropped $800 per vehicle in the fourth quarter from the same period of 2009. But GM increased them by $400 from December to January as the company saw a chance to gain sales, he said.

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May 29 2011 at 1:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sonny the unions can give themselves another big bonus.

February 24 2011 at 6:22 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

How do you post a profit if you still have an outstanding loan due???

February 24 2011 at 4:14 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

They still owe billions for the bailout, all they did is wipe out the bondholders and give a chunk of the company to the union. I will NEVER buy another Government Motors vehicle, give your business to Ford.

February 24 2011 at 1:00 PM Report abuse +8 rate up rate down Reply
4 replies to jimjdb5591's comment

If ignorance is bliss, then there are quite a few very happy people on this blog!!

February 24 2011 at 12:58 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to pozboys's comment
Foltynski Family

So what your saying is that we must be very informed.

February 24 2011 at 2:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Now all they need to do is figure out how to make a vehicle as good as my Toyota.

February 24 2011 at 12:56 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to fjludu's comment

fjludu: Which recall list is your TOYota on?

February 25 2011 at 3:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Theres no way they could make any money with the union pulling them down.They have to be cooking the books.

February 24 2011 at 12:29 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to trmnatr2's comment

You are just jealous because you have no union to represent you SCAB1

February 24 2011 at 12:53 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply

Of coursew the numbers are skewed by Obama who owns GM and the mob run Unions which today have no use other then to keep the legal extortion of the workers stealing from them. A union is the worse possible organization to be forced to be in. Bad reputation, lazy workers and poor quality compared to non Uninion workers who care about thier work.

February 24 2011 at 1:31 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

what a leftiest story gm made money my azz ya right how about paying taxpayers back before giving union bonus and if you got any left pay back stock holders that were screwed shedding debt in bankrupt how about the people that invested that money

February 24 2011 at 12:16 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply

Government motors is going to force small mini-Euro cars on the public, who don't want them. What is selling? Trucks, the last real American car with a V-8 engine, a full frame, and rear wheel dive. The government has already forced them to turn SUV's into front drive mini-vans that have no frame and aren't real four wheel drive. The Suburban goes to a mini-van in 2014.Your choices are rapidle declining as cars become smaller and SUV's go away. Expect smaller pick-ups with tiny engines also.

February 24 2011 at 12:11 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to dodie1990's comment

$5.00 dollar a gal gas is a sure thing this summer, good luck with that big truck with the v-8 engine!!

February 24 2011 at 12:55 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

What utter bullshirt! GM didn't make a profit. The taxpayer bailed GM out, the government owns GM, and the government has yet to repay a single penny to the American taxpayer for what they paid to purchase GM. And all the bosses at GM, who should have taken massive pay cuts to keep the company solvent (they'd been raking in millions in pay, bonuses, and benefits for years. A few years at $1 per year wouldn't have hurt them at all), will now be fighting to be first in line to get their greedy fists into these "profits." They even tried to BS the public that they'd paid off their TARP loan, but tried to hide the fact that it was paid with more taxpayer money they been given by obama and stimulus.

February 24 2011 at 11:35 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply