General Motors Q1 earnings drop 14% on weaker take from North America

NEW YORK (AFP) - US auto giant General Motors on Thursday reported a 14 per cent fall in profit for the first quarter due to slightly weaker earnings from its North America division.

GM reported net income of US$865 million (S$1.06 billion) in the quarter to March 31 on revenues of US$36.9 billion. That compared with US$1 billion on revenues of US$37.8 billion a year earlier. The breakdown of GM's income by region showed North America's earnings at US$1.4 billion, compared with US$1.6 billion last year.

GM spokesman Jim Cain said the North America results are expected to improve after the company completes several roll-outs of new vehicles in the region. "The story for North America is we're transitioning our product portfolio," he said.

That shift comes against "a backdrop of an economy that continues to improve". GM's wholesale vehicle sales, the figures that are used to calculate profits, showed declines in most regions compared with last year. GM North America sold 829,000 units wholesale compared with 848,000 in the year-ago period.

An exception was China, where wholesale deliveries from GM's joint ventures grew to 841,000 in the quarter from 756,000.

GM's South America division turned in a loss of US$38 million compared to a gain of US$153 million a year ago. Losses in Europe dropped to US$175 million from US$294 million.

Worldwide market share rose from 11.2 per cent in the year-ago period to 11.4 per cent in the most recent quarter. US market share grew from 17.2 per cent to 17.7 per cent.

"The year is off to a solid start as we increased our global share with strong new products that are attracting customers around the world," said GM chief executive Dan Akerson.