GM Reports $1.2-Billion Third-Quarter Loss, Says It Shows Progress

November 16, 2009 - 9:10 AM
"We have significantly more work to do, but today's results provide evidence of the solid foundation we are building for the new GM," CEO Fritz Henderson said in a statement.
Detroit (AP) - General Motors Co. says it lost $1.2 billion from the time it left bankruptcy protection through Sept. 30, far better than it has reported in previous quarters and a sign that the auto giant is starting to turn around its business.
 
The company also says it will begin repaying $6.7 billion in U.S. government loans with a $1.2 billion payment in December. It could pay off the full amount by 2011, four years ahead of schedule.
 
The company cautioned that the earnings numbers mean little because they don't comply with U.S. accounting standards and cover only the part of the quarter after GM left Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on July 10.
 
Even more unusual is the $79.4 billion profit the troubled automaker is reporting for the first nine days of the third quarter, when it remained under bankruptcy court protection but was able to scrap colossal amounts of debt and other obligations from its balance sheet.
 
"We have significantly more work to do, but today's results provide evidence of the solid foundation we are building for the new GM," CEO Fritz Henderson said in a statement.
 
Chief Financial Officer Ray Young said it's impossible to compare the third-quarter results to any previous quarter because GM is still reviewing the value of its assets and liabilities post-bankruptcy to comply with accounting principles.
 
"Direct comparisons are not necessarily applicable. You can make some judgments in terms of trends," Young said.
 
GM maintains the numbers show a company making progress, riding dramatically reduced structural costs to a far better performance than the $6 billion loss GM reported in the first quarter, the last full quarter for which its numbers met accounting standards.
 
GM took in $3.3 billion more cash than it spent for the third quarter, far better than the $10 billion the company burned through during the first quarter.
 
Its third-quarter revenue totaled $26.4 billion, also an improvement over the first quarter when it saw revenue drop nearly 50 percent from the same period in 2008 to $22.4 billion. Revenue was aided by sales boosts in July and August from the government's Cash for Clunkers rebates.
 
GM said its global market share was 11.9 percent in the third quarter, up three percentage points from the first half of the year. The U.S. share stayed flat for the quarter at 19.5 percent.
 
Many customers stayed away from GM showrooms in the first and second quarters, fearing the company wouldn't be around to honor warranties and service their vehicles.