GM earnings beat estimates on strength in North America

Thu Apr 21, 2016 5:35pm EDT
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By Bernie Woodall and Joseph White

DETROIT (Reuters) - Demand for big trucks in North America and an improved performance in Europe propelled General Motors Co's quarterly results well past investors' expectations, and company executives on Thursday affirmed their bullish outlook for the year.

Shares of the automaker rose after it said first-quarter net income more than doubled to $2 billion, closing up 1.5 percent at $32.66.

Earlier the stock briefly topped the $33 price of the company's 2010 initial public offering, which followed a U.S. government-backed bankruptcy. The share price has not significantly surpassed that level in the past year despite GM's three straight quarters of record-breaking pretax profits.

Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra has stepped up efforts to persuade skeptical investors that GM can deliver consistently strong earnings - and return billions of dollars to shareholders - through the ups and downs of the industry's sales cycles.

U.S. auto sales set a record last year and are on pace to top that in 2016, but many investors see signs of the start of a cyclical drop off, which has pressured share prices.

Excluding a one-time expense for litigation settlements, GM's first-quarter earnings were $1.26 a share, beating analysts' estimates of $1.00.

The company said pretax income, excluding one-time items, was a record for the first quarter.

GM said it still expected full-year earnings of $5.25 to $5.75 a share before special items, up from $5.02 in 2015.   Continued...

The GM logo is seen at the General Motors Lansing Grand River Assembly Plant in Lansing, Michigan October 26, 2015. Photo taken October 26.   REUTERS/Rebecca Cook