UPDATE 3-New GM chief vows to stay on course and 'accelerate'

Thu Jan 23, 2014 1:56pm EST
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By Ben Klayman

DETROIT Jan 23 (Reuters) - General Motors Co's new chief executive, Mary Barra, said on Thursday she has no plans to deviate from predecessor Dan Akerson's strategy as the No. 1 U.S. automaker pushes for profitability everywhere it operates.

"There are no right or left turns," said Barra, who took the wheel from Akerson last week as chief of the biggest U.S. automaker. "We have momentum. We have a strategy.

"If I had to say it in one word, it's 'accelerate,'" Barra said, when asked at her first meeting with reporters as GM CEO what changes could be made. "It's more about accelerating business results by quickly sharing the best ideas."

Akerson, during his tenure of just over three years, led GM through an initial public offering, drove the company to record profits, and to leading positions in China and the United States, the world's top auto markets. On Akerson's last full day running the company, GM announced it would pay the first quarterly dividend on its common stock in six years.

Analysts said Barra's comments were not surprising.

"It's probably the right view because GM is still going through a period of discovery of how strong its brands are," said Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas, who likes Barra's background as the former global product development chief.

"GM product has improved, can and will still improve, but will perceptions improve fast enough?" added Jonas, who has an "overweight" rating on the stock.   Continued...