General Motors first-quarter profit tops analysts’ estimates

General Motors Co, the world’s largest automaker, said first-quarter profit topped analysts’ estimates as the company sold more vehicles globally.

Excluding some items, profit slipped to 93 cent a share, down from 95 cent a year earlier and beat the 85-cent average estimate of 16 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Net income slid 61% to $1.32bn (€1bn) from $3.37bn a year earlier, Detroit-based GM said yesterday.

“This is a solid quarter,” chief financial officer Dan Ammann said. “Revenue growth, profit growth, margin growth, cash-flow improvement, another step in the right direction.”

The first-quarter results resemble Ford Motor Co’s profit, which fell 45% to $1.4bn as North America income was reduced by losses in Europe. Slowing growth in China and increasing competition in South America are exacerbating both companies’ reliance on their home continent.

Revenue rose to $37.8bn from $36.2bn, exceeding seven analysts’ $37.5bn average estimate. The quarterly profit is GM’s ninth straight.

The company’s adjusted operating profit in North America rose 35% to $1.69bn from $1.25bn a year earlier while profit from international operations, which includes China, fell to $529 million from $586m.

The company’s global vehicle sales rose 2.7% to 2.28m units from 2.22m a year earlier. GM remains ahead of Volkswagen AG, which sold 2.16m vehicles in the quarter.

GM’s first-quarter US sales climbed 2.7% to an industry-leading 608,320, helped by the Chevrolet Cruze and Malibu sedans, while the company spent 11% less on incentives per vehicle, according to researcher Autodata Corp. Market share fell as chief executive Dan Akerson has emphasised profit margin over unit volumes.

Europe has been a persistent problem for GM. After board members decided not to sell the company’s German-based Opel unit in 2009, losses have continued and deepened. The European operations were on target to break even last year until November when the company said those plans were off track as the economy worsened. GM Europe had a 2011 loss of $747m before interest and taxes.


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