General Motors (GM) posted record profits in 2015, boosted by sales of SUVs and pickups with comfortable margins but shunned Wall Street where the automotive sector patina for many months.
The annual net profit amounted to 9.7 billion dollars, including 6.3 billion in fourth quarter alone and that alone exceeds what the carmaker had won over all of 2014 (3, 95 billion).
Rid of the scandal of defective ignition switch linked to hundreds of deaths, the first US automotive group takes maximum advantage of lower gasoline prices at the pump: they encourage American and Chinese consumers to buy the city 4X4 and flatbed trucks whose prices are higher when compared to sedans and city cars.
The price of a gallon of gasoline (3.8 liters) was on average below 2 dollars last year on American soil, while auto loans rose sharply, banks are less reluctant to grant credit in interest rate environment virtually zero. Large cars thus represented almost a third of the vehicles sold by GM in the US in 2015.
The operating profit of the giant Detroit (north) has increased by 67% to $ 11 billion for a margin of 10.3%, against 6.5% in 2014, in North America.
GM continued to make money in China – $ 572 million in the fourth quarter, up 12% – where it sold 3.6 million vehicles (+ 5%) last year despite the slowdown ‘economy.
In Europe, 2016 should mark a return to equilibrium after sixteen years of losses, through the commercialization of new city cars Opel Corsa and Opel Astra.
Distrust Wall Street
“All the pieces of the building are in place to ensure that Europe returns to growth,” stressed to reporters the CFO Chuck Stevens, spreading further savings on the Old Continent, where the manufacturer has lost $ 800 million in 2015 against 1.4 billion in 2014.
GM has certainly widened its losses in Latin America last year, 600 million, but was in balance in the fourth quarter, a period that reflects the health of the recent activity.
Anticipating another year of record car sales in the United States after a peak of 17.47 million units in 2015, the Automotive Group confirmed its financial targets for 2016 earnings per share adjusted between 5.25 to 5 75 dollars.
GM also increased its dividend (from 36-38 cents) and share repurchase (5 to $ 9 billion) and will reduce its spending over a billion dollars by 2020.
All these efforts will resonate on Wall Street where the stock is trading below $ 33, his opening line in 2010 on his return on the stock market after a year dominated by a bankruptcy filing. Since January, the stock has lost more than 13% and fell by 3.04% to 28.75 dollars Wednesday around 1600 GMT.
“There are good results but is that really what counts in a climate of fear on the fact that we may have reached the peak in terms of sales” in the US, asks Brian Johnson, an analyst at Barclays.
The distrust hanging over the entire automotive industry: Ford, the second American manufacturer, saw its stock plunge 17% in January.
Mr. Stevens said Wednesday hoped that the GM investment in the future of transport modes – autonomous cars, connected cars, shared car services and car without driver – would eventually convince investors that the group plays a leading role in the transformation of the automotive sector.
“The best way to create value for shareholders is to keep our commitments. If we do it well, it will be reflected in the share price, “calculates the leader.
The annual turnover was down 2.3% to 152.36 billion dollars, while it remained stable in the fourth quarter to 39.62 billion dollars.