General Motors Co. netted $1.2 billion in the first quarter of this year compared with $1.3 billion in the same period of 2012 as operating results eroded in every region except Europe.
Quarterly revenue dipped 2% to $36.9 billion because of a 3% drop in wholesale shipments and unfavorable exchange rates. But retail sales grew 4% to 2.36 million units on gains in every region except South America.
The company’s adjusted earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) in the January-April period slid 18% to $1.8 billion.
But investors, who had expected a bigger decline in profit, boosted GM shares 5% to a 52-week high of $31.58 by midday.
GM Financial’s adjusted EBIT edged down less than 1% to $180 million in the first quarter.
Automotive cash outflow was $1.3 billion. GM expects to be cash-flow positive for the full year. The company ended the quarter with $24.3 billion billion in cash.
GM also reported first-quarter results by region:
NORTH AMERICA: Adjusted EBIT dropped 14% to $1.4 billion, weighed down by heavy spending to launch new models. GM warns that its fixed costs in the region in the second and third quarters will be higher than a year earlier.
Revenue dipped 1% to $23 billion. Wholesale shipments declined 2% to 829,000 vehicles, but retail sales climbed 8% to 762,000 units.
EUROPE: GM narrowed its loss to $175 million from $294 million a year earlier. The company says the smaller deficit is a sign that its restructuring is beginning to gain traction.
Revenue in the region fell 8% to $4.8 billion. Retail deliveries slid 6% to 373,000 vehicles.
SOUTH AMERICA: South American operations swung to a $38 million quarterly loss from a $153 million profit. Revenue contracted 5% to $3.7 billion. Deliveries to customers dropped 6% to 234,000 vehicles.
GM says its South American declines were mainly caused by economic turmoil in Venezuela, where the currency was devalued and the company’s sales and production came to a near-standstill.
INTERNATIONAL: In Asia Pacific, Africa and the Middle East, adjusted EBIT slid 5% to $495 million. Revenue shrank 4% to $4.8 billion. Retail sales rose 7% to 992,000 vehicles, buoyed by record sales of 816,400 units in China.