GM profits beat expectations as company builds momentum going into

General Motors expects its earnings momentum to grow this year on higher production volumes after reporting a better-than-expected profit in the last three months of 2022. 

The Detroit automaker reported fourth-quarter adjusted profit of $2.12 a share on Tuesday, beating analysts’ projection for $1.67 a share. That surpassed a $1.35 per share a year ago but came in below $2.25 per share in the third quarter.

Adjusted earnings before interest and taxes for all of 2022 came to $14.5 billion, at the high end of GM’s November forecast of $13.5 billion to $14.5 billion. For the current year, GM sees adjusted profit in a range of $10.5 billion to $12.5 billion, or $6 to $7 a share — above analysts’ projections for $5.70 per share. 

The company is counting on continued demand for its highest profit margin SUVs and trucks and increased vehicle production levels as pandemic-era supply chain problems fade. It expects its sales volume to grow by 5% to 10%. That bullish outlook comes despite signs of a price war in the increasingly competitive market for electric vehicles.

“We expect that our momentum will help us deliver strong results once again in 2023,” Mary Barra, GM’s chief executive officer, said in a letter to shareholders. “In fact, we have all the essential ingredients to deliver EBIT-adjusted in a range of $10.5 billion to $12.5 billion thanks to our strong operating performance.”

Shares of GM rose 4.6% in premarket trading to $37.95 as of 7:32 a.m. in New York. The stock was up about 8% this year as of the close on Monday. 

The company’s revenue in the latest quarter totaled $43.1 billion, above analysts’ projection for $40.5 billion, on a 41% increase in US vehicle sales volumes. Electric-vehicle market leader Tesla Inc. last week said its revenue in the three months to Dec. 31 came to $24.3 billion. Traditional rival Ford Motor Co. reports its earnings on Thursday. 

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EV Price War

Ford cut prices on Monday of its Mustang Mach-E crossover EV just over two weeks after Tesla reduced sticker prices on its all-EV line-up. That sparked concerns among investors about a negative price spiral for battery-powered cars that make up an ever-larger share of the US market. 

Barra said in her letter to shareholders that the company is accelerating production of its newest electric vehicles, the Hummer EV pickup and SUVs and the Cadillac Lyriq, which are built using cells made by the Ultium battery joint venture with LG Energy Solutions.

“2023 will also be a breakout year for the Ultium Platform,” she said. “This keeps us on track to produce 400,000 EVs in North America from 2022 through the first half of next year.”

Company Chief Financial Officer Paul Jacobson said on a call with journalists that the company will increase production of EVs in the first half and step up the pace even more in the second half of 2023. That’s likely to please investors who’ve have been waiting for GM to boost sales of its Ultium vehicles, which have sold in very small amounts during the past year.

No Job Cuts

Jacobson also said the company sees enough strength to avoid layoffs, showcasing GM’s operational strength at a time when other manufacturers, including 3M Co. and Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., have begun to shed jobs.  

The automaker posted operating income from its home market in North America last quarter of $3.65 billion in the quarter, up from $2.17 billion in the year-earlier period. In China, the world’s largest market, it earned $201 million, down from $244 million a year earlier.

Cruise LLC, GM’s self-driving car unit, lost $524 million in the quarter and cost the automaker $1.9 billion for the year. The business is expanding to Phoenix and Austin, Texas and rolling out a robotaxi business.

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