Even with another strong showing predicted this year, one issue causing GM frugality is a $9 billion commitment to R&D spending and a slew of new vehicle launches. And back to that recall situation, even when the compensation overseer sorts out and pays the final claims, which last stood at 50 approved, it has a potential fine due to the Department of Justice and possible civil suits waiting.
GM's chief financial officer said that until those clouds clear, the company wants to sit on "the high end" of a cash pile between $20 and $25 billion; it has about $40 billion in total liquidity. That compares to Ford's cash stash of $22 billion and Fiat-Chrysler's stash of $27.6 billion. The 20-percent dividend bump would add $400 million to shareholder payouts, but the shareholders want GM to disburse about $10 billion of its hoard back to them, or boost the share price with a buyback.