Profitable U.S. pickup trucks lift GM fourth-quarter profit

General Motors Co. displays the new Chevrolet 2020 Silverado HD pickup truck at the GM Flint Assembly Plant in Flint, Michigan, U.S. February 5, 2019. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

DETROIT (Reuters) – General Motors Co on Wednesday swung to a quarterly profit, lifted by high-margin pickup trucks and crossovers in the U.S. market plus cost cutting, and the No.1 U.S. automaker maintained its full-year 2019 earnings forecast.

Virtually all of GM’s profit came from North America, where those lucrative models helped overcome an overall drop in the number of vehicles it sold.

“GM delivered another strong year of earnings in a highly volatile environment in 2018,” Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra said in a statement.

U.S. new vehicle sales are expected to drop in 2019 due to rising interest rates and competition from a surfeit of cheaper, nearly-new used vehicles on the market.

The No. 1 U.S. automaker reported fourth-quarter net income of $2.1 billion or $1.40 per share, versus a loss of $5.2 billion or $3.65 per share a year earlier. Excluding one-time items, GM earned $1.43 a share. Analysts polled by Refinitiv IBES had expected earnings of $1.22.

GM reported a fourth-quarter loss in 2017 to adjust for an overhaul of the U.S. tax system. Excluding those charges, the automaker had reported net income of $2.4 billion.

GM’s pre-tax margin for North America was 10.2 percent. The automaker said that 46,500 hourly U.S. workers would receive a profit sharing payment of up to $10,750 each.

The company maintained its full-year 2019 adjusted earnings forecast of between $6.50 and $7 per share.

Reporting by Nick Carey and Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by Nick Zieminski

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