GM reports largest annual profit

February 17, 2012 12:00 am

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DETROIT -- General Motors reported a big annual profit Thursday, but losses in Europe dragged down fourth-quarter earnings.

The results mean GM's hourly workers in the United States will receive profit-sharing checks next month of up to $7,000, a record.

GM said it earned a quarterly profit of $472 million, or 28 cents a share, down from $510 million, or 31 cents a share, a year ago. It was the eighth consecutive quarterly profit for the carmaker, which cleansed much of its debt in bankruptcy two years ago, but also the smallest during that stretch.

For all of 2011, GM earned $7.6 billion, nearly all of it from North America. That was 62 percent higher than the $4.7 billion it earned a year ago and nominally more than GM's previous record of $6.7 billion in 1997 (in today's dollars, the 1997 profit would be about $9.4 billion).

Revenue increased 11 percent to $150.3 billion, as sales rose and its vehicles commanded higher prices.

GM's chief executive, Daniel F. Akerson, called the year "another step in the right direction" but said the performance in Europe was not acceptable.

"Obviously, we still have a lot of work to do in some areas, and we're taking the necessary corrective actions to get the ball over the goal line," Mr. Akerson said in a conference call with analysts and reporters.

Excluding one-time items like debt reduction and an investment in its former financing arm, Ally Financial, GM earned 39 cents a share in the fourth quarter, 2 cents below analysts' expectations. Still, shares were up 6.4 percent, to $26.53, in midday trading Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange.

The government still owns 26 percent of GM, but the Obama administration has delayed plans to sell those shares in the hopes of recovering a larger percentage of its investment as the share price increases.

First Published 2012-02-16 23:13:12

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