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GM beats Wall Street estimates, forecasts continued strong profit in 2024

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A GMC pickup truck is displayed for sale on a lot at a General Motors dealership in Austin, Texas, on Jan. 5, 2023.
Brandon Bell | Getty Images

DETROIT — General Motors

The Detroit automaker’s 2024 guidance calls for net income attributable to stockholders of $9.8 billion to $11.2 billion, or $8.50 to $9.50 earnings per share; adjusted earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) of $12 billion to $14 billion, or $8.50 to $9.50 adjusted EPS; and adjusted automotive free cash flow between $8 billion and $10 billion.

The earnings guidance is largely better than GM’s 2023 results and in line or higher than many Wall Street analysts’ expectations of flat results compared with 2023.

Here’s how the company performed in the fourth quarter, compared with average estimates compiled by LSEG, formerly known as Refinitiv:

Adjusted earnings per share: $1.24 versus $1.16, estimatedRevenue: $42.98 billion versus $38.67 billion, estimated

For the fourth quarter, GM reported net income for stockholders of $2.1 billion, or $1.59 per share, compared with $2 billion, or $1.39 per share a year earlier. Adjusting for one-time items, GM earned $1.24 per share, topping Wall Street expectations.

Revenue was largely flat year over year, at $42.98 billion compared with $43.11 billion for the final three months of 2022.

GM’s full-year 2023 revenue was about up 10% compared with the prior year, at $171.84 billion, with net income attributable to stockholders of $10.13 billion and adjusted earnings before interest and taxes of $12.36 billion. That compares with 2022 revenue of $156.74 billion, net income attributable to stockholders of $9.93 billion and adjusted EBIT of $14.47 billion.

“As we begin 2024, I believe GM is well positioned for another year of strong financial performance,” GM CFO Paul Jacobson told media during a call to discuss the results.

GM’s 2023 earnings included several special charges, including $1.1 billion in North American strike costs and $792 million charge for new commercial agreements between GM and LG Electronics and LG Energy Solution.

Shares of GM are down less than 2% this year after rising about 7% last year, lifted by an accelerated $10 billion share repurchase program that was announced in late November.

Regional results

GM’s North American adjusted earnings were off 45% during the fourth quarter from a year earlier to $2.01 billion. Its international operations declined by 1.1% to $269 million.

China – GM’s second-largest market – continued to struggle, with a 34% decline in equity income for the year to $446 million, including a 54% drop during the fourth quarter.

Jacobson said GM expects its China operations this year to be roughly flat from last, including an anticipated loss in the first quarter.

“The team is doing a good job of managing through a challenging situation but we’re going to have a tough first quarter,” he said.

For the year, GM’s North American operations were off 5.3% to $12.31 billion, while international operations were up 5.9% to $1.21 billion.

Cruise

GM expects to spend roughly $1 billion less this year on its majority-owned autonomous vehicle subsidiary Cruise. In 2023 it spent $2.7 billion on the embattled business unit, excluding special items such as severance packages for layoffs.

Cruise remains under several state and federal investigations following an Oct. 2 accident involving a pedestrian in San Francisco.

GM CEO Mary Barra, who chairs Cruise’s board, said officials have “already begun to implement significant changes” at Cruise following the findings of internal, third-party probes into the incident and operations.

Cruise and GM last week released findings of internal investigations that outlined cultural issues, regulatory ineptitude and poor leadership at the company, but found that officials did not intentionally deceive or mislead regulators.

The companies also disclosed Cruise remains under investigation by several entities, including the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

“At Cruise, we are committed to earning back the trust of regulators and the public through our commitments and our actions,” Barra said in a letter to shareholders Tuesday.

EVs

Both Barra and Jacobson acknowledged that the adoption of electric vehicles in the U.S. has been slower than originally expected but said the company remains committed to expanding its EV lineup and sales in 2024.

“Consensus is growing that the U.S. economy, the job market and auto sales will continue to be resilient, and at GM, we expect healthy industry sales of about 16 million units with the mix of EVs continuing to grow,” Barra said.

The automaker last year pulled its near-term sales guidance for EVs but maintained plans to add 1 million units worth of EV production capacity in North America and achieve a mid-single-digit EBIT EV margin, both by 2025.

GM’s EV sales totaled 75,883 units, or 2.9% of the company’s overall sales, last year. A vast majority of those were sales of its now discontinued Chevrolet Bolt models.

The company has experienced problems in ramping up production of its newer “Ultium” EVs, including a major issue with battery module assembly.

GM has said it plans to keep its North American plants “flexible” to produce EVs and traditional vehicles with internal combustion engines, based on consumer demand.

This is breaking news. Please check back for additional updates.

— CNBC’s Michael Bloom contributed to this report.

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