Why GM Earnings Were Not Good Enough

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General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) reported first-quarter 2018 results before markets opened Thursday. The automaker posted adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $1.43 on revenues of $36.1 billion. In the same period a year ago, the company reported EPS of $1.75 on revenues of $37.27 billion. First-quarter results also compare to the consensus estimates for EPS of $1.28 and $34.6 billion in revenues.

Net income for the quarter totaled $1.05 billion, down from $2.61 billion in the year-ago quarter. Adjusted pre-tax earnings totaled $2.61 billion, down from $3.55 billion a year ago. The company said $942 million was charged to asset impairments and employee separation costs at its plant in South Korea.

Total automotive revenues came to $32.72 billion in the quarter, down about 5.6% from $34.65 billion in the first quarter of last year. International sales were down 5.6% year over year and North American sales were down 5.2%.

GM reported U.S. sales volume of 715,794 vehicles in the quarter, up 2% year over year. Sales of crossover vehicles are up 23% across all GM brands. Sales in China totaled a record 986,052 units, up nearly 8% year over year.

Cadillac brand sales are up 22.5% globally to 96,321 units, Buick brand sales are up 9.2% to 332,321 units, and Chevrolet brand sales are up 3.6% to 957,343 units.

Beginning in May, GM will report sales figures quarterly instead of monthly. The second-quarter and subsequent sales reports will be released before the company reports earnings for the quarter.

Mary Barra, the company’s CEO, said:

Results this quarter were in line with our expectations with planned, lower production in North
America related to the transition to our all-new Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra. We are on plan to deliver another strong year in 2018.

The company did not provide guidance with its announcement. Consensus estimates call for second-quarter EPS of $1.92 and revenues of $36.57 billion. For the full year, analysts are looking for EPS of $6.34 and revenues of $144.31 billion.

GM’s shares traded down about 2.8% in Thursday’s premarket session to $37.15, in a 52-week range of $31.92 to $46.76. The 12-month price target for the shares was $47.96 before this morning’s report.

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