The company has cut production of light trucks such as these sport utility vehicles.
Gary Malerba / AP Enlarge
DETROIT - General Motors Corp. posted a smaller first-quarter loss than analysts estimated as rising sales in Asia and Latin America tempered declines in the U.S.
The automaker said yesterday it lost $3.3 billion, or $5.74 a share, in the January-March period, compared with a profit of $62 million, or 11 cents a share, a year earlier. The loss was the company's third straight quarterly deficit.
GM's total revenue for the quarter was $42.7 billion, down from $43.4 billion a year ago. GM said revenues were up 20 percent outside North America thanks to strong growth in China, Russia, Brazil, and India.
Excluding charges for former parts subsidiary Delphi Corp. and the GMAC LLC finance unit, the loss was $350 million, or 62 cents a share, beating the $1.52 average estimate of 13 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.
GM's shares closed 9.4 percent, or $2, higher yesterday at $23.20 in trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
The company's loss in North America, its largest region, was $812 million, compared with $208 million a year earlier, in part because of an $800 million expense from a strike at American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings Inc.
The two-month walkout has idled all or part of as many as 31 GM plants. GM and other automakers report revenue when a model is shipped from the factory, not when it is sold at the dealer, so lost production means lost revenue.
GM's U.S. market share for the quarter was unchanged at 22 percent.
In Europe, GM's profit grew by more than 18 times to $75 million, and in the Asia-Pacific region, profit doubled to $286 million on the strength of South Korean-designed Chevrolet small cars. The Latin America-Africa-Middle East region also doubled, to $517 million.
GM's supply of cash, marketable securities and other funds available for liquidity fell to $23.9 billion from $24.7 billion.
The automaker lowered its forecast for 2008 U.S. vehicle sales to the mid to high 15 million-unit range, including medium-and heavy-duty trucks. The previous industry estimate was 16 million, in January.
GM Chief Operating Officer Fritz Henderson said yesterday that a production cut of 138,000 trucks and sport utility vehicles at four plants in the United States and Canada this year, announced early this week, probably will be permanent.
The automaker lost a record $39 billion last year, mostly because of a tax accounting change. GM lost $1.98 billion in 2006 and $10.4 billion in 2005.