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GM Posts $4.7 Billion In Profits Last Year

General Motors has had a banner year — from its stock offering in November to the triumphant debut of the Chevy Volt. Now the company has reported earnings of $4.7 billion for last year. But it still has a way to go before it's independent of the government.

Transcript

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Michele Norris.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

General Motors is making money again - and a lot of it. After reinventing itself in bankruptcy with a big assist from taxpayers, GM reported annual profits of $4.7 billion today. It's the company's first profitable year since 2004.

As NPR's Sonari Glinton reports, the numbers are so strong, they're prompting speculation that GM's recovery is complete.

SONARI GLINTON: It's been a banner year for General Motors. But in this last year, GM and its CEO, Dan Akerson, have made it a point of sounding humble.

Mr. DAN AKERSON (CEO, General Motors): We know what went wrong and I believe we've learned a lot from that.

GLINTON: That's Akerson when the company went public in November. Here he is on this show back in December.

Mr. AKERSON: On behalf of the company and all of its employees, I'd like to thank the American public for their assistance.

GLINTON: And this morning...

Mr. AKERSON: We know we still have a lot to do and we plan to continue to build on our progress.

GLINTON: GM's post-bankruptcy balance sheet is impressive. These are the best profits since 1999. But what about the company's culture?

Ms. REBECCA LINDLAND (Analyst, IHS Automotive): I think they still have more work to do internally.

GLINTON: Rebecca Lindland is an analyst with IHS Automotive. She says GM has done exceedingly well in the last year. But it's not time for a victory lap.

Ms. LINDLAND: I think that there is still some Detroit-centric thinking. There also is just - is some idea that, you know, the worst is over and look how far we've come.

GLINTON: Despite how far GM has come, its stock took a hit today. Gary Bradshaw, an investment analyst with Hodges Capital Management, says the thing that is hurting GM's stock is far from Detroit.

Mr. GARY BRADSHAW (Investment Analyst, Hodges Capital Management): Here it is that, you know, last week we had Egypt out there and this week it's Libya and next week it's, could it be Saudi Arabia?

GLINTON: Bradshaw says fear of uncertainty in the Middle East and higher gas prices has a direct effect on car sales and GM.

Mr. BRADSHAW: I think that person walking in the showroom, when he walks by a pump and it's 3.29 or 3.39, they're going to think, well, you know, maybe I ought to hold off and wait a little bit. And so there's a little hesitation right now.

GLINTON: Bradshaw says if nature abhors a vacuum, then the car industry definitely abhors instability, especially in the Middle East.

Sonari Glinton, NPR News, Detroit. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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