North America, China power GM to record $9.7b annual profit

DETROIT -- Strong earnings in North America and China and a reversal of fortunes in Europe powered General Motors to a record net profit of $9.7 billion last year.

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The profit more than doubled GM's 2014 earnings and was aided by a $3.9 billion fourth-quarter accounting gain because prospects for turning a profit in Europe are good. The company expects to break even there this year.

Excluding special items, GM earned $5.02 per share for the year, beating Wall Street estimates of $4.82. Profits were fueled by strong SUV and truck sales largely in North America.

Full-year revenue fell just over 2 per cent to $152.4 billion, but still beat analyst estimates of $144.9 billion.

Earnings were so strong that most of GM's 49,600 hourly workers will get $11,000 profit-sharing checks on Feb. 26. The checks were based on North American pretax earnings, which hit a record of just over $11 billion for the year.

"We continue to strengthen our core business, which is laying the foundation for the company to lead in the transformation to personal mobility," CEO Mary Barra said in a statement.

GM recently invested $500 million in ride-hailing service Lyft and has announced plans to start its own car-sharing services in metro areas worldwide as it prepares for the next generation of transportation.

For the fourth quarter, GM posted a $6.3 billion net profit. Without special items, the company earned $1.39 per share, beating estimates of $1.20.

Fourth-quarter revenue was flat at $39.6 billion, just below Wall Street estimates.

Its shares jumped 38 cents, or 1.3 per cent, to $30.03 in premarket trading about an hour and half before the market open.



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