GM’s doing well, thank you, and is ready for recession
GM shares shot up today, after the company announced, in a morning conference call, profits of $2.3 billion in the past quarter, good for a 38¢ per share dividend. GM Financial had earnings before taxes of $700 million. Gross revenue was $35.5 billion.
Automotive operating cash flow for the quarter was $5 billion, double the figure from the third quarter of 2018, according to GAAP standards.
Part of the company’s success was a major gain in pickup sales, resulting in an 8-percentage-point U.S. market-share gain from January through September. The Silverado/Sierra light-duty pickups saw 18% and 38% gains, respectively, year-over-year, despite price hikes of around $2,200 per unit.
The company said that the strike resulted in production being down by around 300,000 vehicles. However, the AutoBison analysts noted that inventories were badly swollen at the dawn of the strike; the company would have had to cut production regardless. This is not to dismiss the strike, the longest GM strike since 1970; but could GM have sold another 300,000 vehicles, had they been able to build them? What would it have done to resale values (and leasing profits), if GM had to flush them out with fire sales? (The company’s 48,000 union workers ratified the contract last week; in exchange for major plant closures and continued long-term use of temporary employees, the union gained continued their health insurance deal, raises, bonuses, and “signing bonuses.”)
For the full year, GM expects auto operating free cash flow up to $5.5-$7.5 billion, partly because capital expenditures are likely to be lower (around $7.5 billion). However, adjusted auto free cash flow will be under $1 billion. New investments in Hamtramck (Detroit), part of the union’s demands but possibly already in GM’s secret long-term plan, cut original estimates a bit; GM will make an all-electric pickup truck there.
The company had $3 billion of profits in North America (up by around $200 million) for the quarter; they lost around $100 million in China, down by $200 million from Q3 2018, and spent $300 million on the Cruise auto-driving division. Chinese sales fell by 11%, though Cadillac sales gained.
GM is truly an international company; they sold around 863,000 vehicles in North America, 829,000 in Asia/Pacifica, Middle East, and Africa, and 176,000 in South America. In Europe, where they sold their chief business (Opel/Vauxhall), GM only managed around 1,000 sales.
GM is ready for the predicted recession, with $37.2 billion of total liquidity. GM’s summary.
Clark Westfield grew up fixing up and driving past-their-prime American cars, including various GM and Mopar V8s. He has ghostwritten auto news for the last few years, lives in Farmingdale, New York, and can be reached at +1.516-531-4021.