General Motors posted strong fourth-quarter profits in North America and Asia but wider losses in Europe while recording its third straight profitable year since exiting bankruptcy.
GM posted a net profit of $892 million for the October-December period, up 89 percent from the year-earlier period. That includes several one-time charges and gains that added about $100 million to GM’s bottom line.
Excluding those items, GM’s operating profit, which the company believes is the best reflection of its underlying performance, rose 14 percent to $1.25 billion.
For the full year, GM’s net income was $4.86 billion, down 36 percent from a record $7.59 billion in 2011. Operating income in 2012, before any one-time items, was $7.86 billion, down 5 percent, according to the company’s quarterly earnings statement.
GM’s results, on an earnings-per-share basis, disappointed Wall Street. After the one-time items, GM earned 48 cents a share during the quarter — 3 cents less than a survey of analysts conducted by Reuters. GM shares fell 3.3 percent to close the day at $27.72.
“From every vantage point, 2012 was another solid year for General Motors,” GM CEO Dan Akerson told analysts during a conference call.
Despite the growing red ink in Europe, Akerson stood by GM’s earlier forecast of reaching breakeven on the troubled continent by the middle of the decade. He expects to finalize a labor deal with German unions by the end of March, a key part of GM’s restructuring plan.
“One thing we can’t control is the market, but we have certain levers we can pull,” Akerson said. “At the same time, we can’t just play defense. We’re trying to play offense” by entering new segments, including the recent launch of the Opel Mokka small crossover and Adam minicar.