GM still sees 2017 earnings at $6.00 to $6.50 per share: CFO

By By Nick CareyFeaturesReuters

General Motors Co's chief financial officer said on Thursday the automaker expects another "very strong year" in 2017 and reiterated the company's earnings forecast for the year.

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"Overall, we expect a more challenging environment across a number of dimensions" in 2017, due to rising interest rates and falling used-car prices, CFO Chuck Stevens told investors and analysts on a conference call.

But thanks to an improving economy and lower fuel prices, Stevens said GM believes "we're going to be in a reasonably constructive industry environment."

The CFO's conference call came just days after disappointing U.S. new light vehicle sales figures for March showed an annualized sales rate of around 16.6 million units.

Those figures had added to concerns that after a six-year boom cycle that U.S. auto sales might be set for a decline.

Stevens said GM still expected U.S. new light-vehicle sales for the industry at around 17.5 million units, after a record 17.55 million in 2016.

The No. 1 U.S. automaker believes March figures were skewed by a mild winter that meant sales were "more evenly distributed" across the first quarter as opposed to prior bitterly cold winters, Stevens said.

GM still expects full-year earnings per share of $6.00 to $6.50, he said.

(Reporting by Nick Carey; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Nick Zieminski)