Although for automakers the past few years haven’t been so profitable, things changed in 2011, particularly at the end of the year. For General Motors, in particular, fourth quarter of 2011 was quite successful, as this automaker scored a record breaking profit.
Stronger sales and increasing consumer confidence helped General Motors recover from the disastrous situation only three years ago. According to the company’s press release, General Motors’ fourth quarter record breaking profit reached $9.19 billion. As Bloomberg points out, this is “the largest profit in its 103 year history”.
Chief Financial Officer Dan Ammann appeared satisfied with the results but focused on the European market and its troubles. Ammann said: “We clearly have work to do in Europe. We have work to do in the South America business. Frankly we have work to do all around the company in terms of cost opportunities” .
In Ammann’s view, the company still has a long way to go to become profitable. For 2012, General Motors expects to record bigger sales than it has last year. In 2011’s fourth quarter, General Motors’ sales rose 3 percent at $38 billion, just slightly under what analysts were expecting.
GM’s European division recorded a loss of $562 million in the fourth quarter, performance followed by South America’s unit that posted a loss of $225 million.
Interesting enough is that General Motors managed to remain profitable at a time when the global economic conditions aren’t exactly what you’d call advantageous. The company’s European business, the Opel brand, recorded a loss of $747 million for 2011 but it didn’t affect by much the overall success as U.S. and China sales covered the loss.
Rebecca Lindland is an industry analyst with HIS Automotive and from her point of view, General Motors’ results is a sign of “tremendous” success, particularly when looking back at 2009, when the company had to request backup from the government. “GM’s results in Europe certainly dampen the positive results in the U.S. but you have to still say they had a really good year”.
Despite the company’s success in fourth quarter, the markets haven’t been so impressed with the results. General Motors’ shares recorded a 23 percent increase, but continue to remain under the 2010 level.