GM posts $3.25 billion loss in Q1

General Motors announced today that it recorded a net loss of $3.25 billion during the first quarter of 2008, but it looks worse than it is thanks to a $1.45 billion hit from its 49% stake in floundering GMAC. The two-month long American Axle strike also cost GM about $800 million, while further support of bankrupt supplier Delphi's restructuring took $731 million from the corporate coffers. These "headline numbers" don't look good, but GM's performance in the area of actually selling cars wasn't as bad as analysts expected, and the automaker's stock actually rose after these earnings were announced.
GM continued to do well in the business of selling cars in regions like Europe, Asia and Latin America, but the North American market continued to underperform. In North America, GM lost $812 million on revenue from sales of $24.5 billion, compared to a loss of $208 million last year on $28.1 billion of revenue. Aside from selling fewer vehicles, GM also lost 100,000 units of production thanks to the American Axle strike, which helped its market share slip from 22.5% last year to 21.7% in Q1 2008. Clearly the news isn't as good as it was, say, for Ford, but GM is virtually the only automaker being affected by the American Axle strike, and has a number of labor- and supplier-related issues to sort out before it can begin building a steady stream of its most popular models in North America.

[Source: GM, Automotive News - sub. req'd]


GM Reports Preliminary First Quarter 2008 Financial Results

  • First quarter revenue of $42.7 billion
  • Positive adjusted automotive earnings before tax, with improvement of over $160 million
  • Positive reported automotive earnings before tax, down by $118 million
  • Adjusted net loss of $350 million, reported net loss of $3.3 billion
  • Continued strong results in emerging markets
  • Liquidity position of $23.9 billion

DETROIT – General Motors Corp. (NYSE: GM) today announced financial results for the first quarter of 2008, marked by improved adjusted automotive operating performance, rapid growth in emerging markets, continued cost performance in GM North America (GMNA) operations and liquidity of nearly $24 billion, despite the impact of the American Axle strike on North American operations and weakness in the U.S. auto industry.

"We continue to leverage our global product portfolio to take advantage of tremendous growth in key emerging markets, while at the same time taking the appropriate actions to deal with the challenging economic conditions in the U.S.," said GM Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Rick Wagoner.

Reflecting several special items noted below, GM reported a net loss of $3.3 billion, or $5.74 per share in the first quarter of 2008, compared with a net loss from continuing operations of $42 million, or $.07 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter.

Adjusted automotive earnings before taxes were $392 million, up $161 million despite the significant impact of the American Axle strike and weak U.S. auto industry (reported earnings declined $118 million). These positive results were driven by strong combined earnings before taxes of $1 billion in GM Latin America, Africa and Middle East (GMLAAM), GM Asia Pacific (GMAP) and GM Europe (GME), which more than offset a loss at GMNA.

Excluding special items, GM posted an adjusted net loss of $350 million, or $.62 per diluted share in the first quarter of 2008, reflecting losses at GMAC and tax expenses. These results compare to an adjusted net loss from continuing operations of $10 million, or $0.01 per diluted share in the first quarter of 2007.

The reported results for the first quarter of 2008 include unfavorable special items totaling $2.9 billion. The charges include $1.45 billion to record a non-cash partial impairment of our equity investment in GMAC. Based on current market pricing, GM concluded that the estimated fair value of the common and preferred equity interests it holds in GMAC were approximately $1.45 billion less than GM's carrying value.

GM also took a non-cash charge of $731 million to increase GM's liability for estimated net costs associated with GM's support of Delphi's bankruptcy and restructuring efforts. This charge primarily results from updated estimates reflecting uncertainty around the nature, value and timing of GM's recoveries. In addition, GM recorded $394 million in non-cash tax-related valuation allowances related to deferred tax assets in Europe, and $324 million in charges related to previously-announced restructuring actions in North America and Europe. Details on all of the special items are included in the "Highlights" section of this news release.

GM's total revenue for the first quarter of 2008 was $42.7 billion, down slightly from $43.4 billion in the year-ago quarter primarily due to lower North America automotive and financial services and insurance revenues. Automotive revenues outside of North America were up over 20 percent, with strong growth in China, Brazil, Russia and India.

As reported in the fourth quarter of 2007, and reflected in the remainder of this release, GM now reports its automotive operations and regional results on an earnings-before-tax basis, with taxes reported on a total corporate basis.

GM Automotive Operations

Adjusted profits from GM's global automotive operations improved, with first quarter 2008 earnings before tax of $392 million on an adjusted basis (reported earnings before tax of $68 million), compared to $231 million in the year-ago period (reported earnings before tax of $186 million).

GM sold 2.25 million vehicles in the first quarter of 2008, down less than one percent from 2.27 million units in the first quarter 2007, with a record 64 percent of sales outside of the United States. Unit sales outside GMNA were up 8 percent compared with the same quarter last year. Robust sales in the first quarter in GM's GMLAAM and GMAP regions, and improved sales in the GME region helped offset a 10 percent unit decline in GMNA.


GMNA revenue for the first quarter 2008 was $24.5 billion, compared to $28.1 billion in the year-ago period. The decline in GMNA first quarter revenue was significantly impacted by the lost production due to the American Axle strike. Other factors include a softer U.S. market and planned actions to maintain lean inventories. With the industry shift toward more fuel-efficient vehicles, GM's most recently launched passenger cars and crossovers, including the Cadillac CTS, GMC Acadia, Buick Enclave and the all-new Chevrolet Malibu continue to perform well in the marketplace.

The decline in GMNA first quarter earnings was more than accounted for by the loss of 100,000 production units resulting from the American Axle strike, which had an estimated impact to earnings of $0.8 billion. Other factors included lower volumes resulting from a softer U.S. market and lower market share, as well as shifts in product mix. Partially offsetting the declines were favorable material and structural cost performance and commodity hedging gains and foreign exchange.


GME Revenue was up 17 percent and adjusted earnings before tax improved by $137 million. GME's improved earnings for the first quarter were driven by improved material cost performance, commodity hedging gains and reduced warranty costs, which were partially offset by negative foreign exchange and unfavorable country mix. GME had record first-quarter sales volumes of 572,000 units.


Adjusted earnings before tax in the GMLAAM region more than doubled in the first quarter of 2008, driven by continued strong market growth and gains in GM market share in the region. GMLAAM revenue was up over 33 percent and volumes were up 20 percent, setting new first-quarter records for both unit sales and revenue. In addition, Argentina, Egypt and North Africa each set new quarterly sales records.


GMAP adjusted earnings before tax increased by 49 percent, driven by strong volume and improvements in material cost performance, which were partially offset by mix and pricing deterioration and increased structural costs incurred to support growth. Revenue and earnings before tax improved significantly due to the overall volume gains, although market share was down slightly primarily due to declines in China, Australia and Korea.


On a standalone basis, GMAC Financial Services reported a net loss of $589 million for the first quarter 2008, primarily due to significant declines in the international mortgage operation of Residential Capital, LLC (ResCap). The company's global automotive and insurance businesses posted profits. GM reported an adjusted loss before taxes of $276 million for the quarter attributable to GMAC, as a result of its 49 percent equity interest and preferred dividends. While continued volatility in the capital and credit markets put pressure on first quarter results, GMAC continues to take actions to reduce risk, streamline its cost structure and preserve liquidity in an effort to protect franchise value.

Cash and Liquidity

Cash, marketable securities, and readily-available assets of the Voluntary Employees' Beneficiary Association (VEBA) trust totaled $23.9 billion on March 31, 2008, down from $24.7 billion on March 31, 2007. The change in liquidity reflects adjusted negative operating cash flow of $3.6 billion in the first quarter 2008. The decrease was driven largely by lower production in GMNA, including the impact of the American Axle strike. Including undrawn, committed U.S. credit facilities of approximately $7 billion, GM has access to more than $30 billion in liquidity.

Looking Forward

In light of the current state of the U.S. economy and automotive industry, GM has revised its 2008 U.S. total industry seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) outlook to the mid to high 15 million unit range, down from the low 16 million unit range. As a result of the anticipated softer automotive industry, GM announced earlier this week that it will eliminate a shift of production at four assembly plants: Janesville, WI; Pontiac and Flint, MI and Oshawa, Ont.

"We remain focused on taking the actions necessary to assure GM's long-term success – product excellence, leadership in advanced propulsion technology, growth in emerging markets, and accelerating the restructuring of our U.S. business to achieve sustainable profitability," said Wagoner.

Results for the first quarter of 2008 are preliminary and may be revised prior to the filing of GM's first quarter report on Form 10-Q in May.

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