2 years after IPO, GM is piling up cash
DETROIT — Two years after a wounded General Motors returned to the stock market, the symbol of American industrial might is thriving again.
Sunday marks the anniversary of GM’s initial public stock offering in November 2010. The company has made money for 11 straight quarters, piling up more than $16 billion in profits. Its cars and trucks are selling for good prices. And sales are strong in China.
But there are signs of trouble. GM’s U.S. sales, the prime driver of its profits, aren’t rising as quickly as the overall market. There’s been turmoil in the executive ranks, and the company is hemorrhaging cash in Europe.
Since the IPO, here are GM’s achievements, struggles and question marks.
Big profits: GM is making money — nearly $4 billion so far this year. Most of that came from the U.S., where GM cars and trucks are selling for almost 6 percent more than they did in January of 2011. The average selling price is $32,662, says the TrueCar.com auto pricing site. GM also is making good money in China and the rest of Asia, and it has turned around its money-losing South American operations with a host of new products.
Better cars: The company has rolled out new compact, subcompact and mini cars that are selling well. Car-based crossovers, which are more efficient than traditional truck-based SUVs, also are selling.
Cash pile: GM, which nearly ran out of cash at the end of 2008, ended the third quarter with $31.6 billion in cash and securities. Bankruptcy wiped out old GM’s debts and burdensome contracts.
New lineup: GM is spending millions to update or replace 70 percent of its North American lineup by the end of next year.
Stock price: Shares of GM sold for $33 when the company re-entered the stock market on Nov. 18, 2010. For a few months, everything looked good. The stock peaked in January of 2011 at almost $39. But then the bottom dropped out and the shares tumbled. In July of 2012, they hit a low of $18.72, weighed down by a slowing U.S. economy and troubles in Europe. They’ve recovered some but are still almost 30 percent below the IPO price.
U.S. market-share: GM’s share of the critical U.S. market has dropped to 18 percent from 22 percent since the end of 2008.
Europe: GM has lost $16 billion in Europe in the past 12 years, but it’s trying to resuscitate the business with cost cuts and new products.
Leadership: Akerson became CEO in September 2010, GM’s fourth leader in two years. He took the reins as the company’s recovery from bankruptcy was hitting its stride.
Despite streamlining decision-making, many in the company view him unwilling to listen. He recently removed the heads of sales, marketing, and Europe, which some critics viewed as too much change too fast.
Akerson has pushed to bring products to market faster, but has hit resistance from engineers who fear that quality could suffer.