GM profit beats on strong U.S. demand, smaller loss in Europe

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Published July 25, 2013

| Reuters

General Motors Co on Thursday posted a higher-than-expected quarterly profit on strong demand in North America and cost-cutting in its struggling European business.

Europe, where industry sales hit a 20-year low in the first half, remains "very challenging," GM Chief Financial Officer Dan Ammann told reporters. He added it was too soon to call any sort of improvement there.

GM's net income in the second quarter fell to $1.2 billion, or 75 cents a share, from $1.5 billion, or 90 cents a share, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, mostly related to the acquisition of preferred shares in GM Korea, the automaker earned 84 cents a share, 9 cents above the average forecast of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. GM shares were up 2 percent in premarket trading.

Revenue rose 4 percent to $39.1 billion, above the $38.37 billion analysts had expected.

In May GM reported a stronger-than-expected first-quarter profit as it kept a tight grip on costs in its North American and European businesses. That grip was still in place in the second quarter in Europe, where the company cut $400 million in costs compared with a year earlier. Ammann said GM continues to be aggressive in those efforts.

GM's North American business had operating earnings of almost $2 billion in the latest quarter, easily topping the $1.75 billion that nine analysts polled by Reuters had expected. Ammann said the U.S. market remains robust, but GM declined to raise its full-year forecast for industry-wide U.S. sales.

GM Europe had an operating loss of $110 million in the second quarter, almost one-third smaller than Wall Street had expected. The company's sales and market share in Europe fell in the quarter, however.

Ammann said GM remains focused on executing plans previously outlined in its alliance with PSA Peugeot Citroen but has no plans to put more money into the French automaker.

GM's international operations, which includes China, reported a disappointing profit of $228 million, down 64 percent. Ammann cited pricing pressure in Australia and Southeast Asia, as well as cost headwinds in India.

(This story corrects net income in 3rd paragraph to $1.2 billion, not billion million, vs year-earlier $1.5 billion, not million)

(Reporting by Ben Klayman and Deepa Seetharaman; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and John Wallace)

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