DETROIT — Rising factory output led to strong U.S. sales at the end of last year, pushing General Motors’ fourth-quarter net income up 16% over the same period a year ago.
The Detroit automaker made $1.99 billion from October through December, or an adjusted $2.12 per share, easily beating Wall Street per-share projections for $1.69, according to a poll of industry analysts by FactSet.
Quarterly revenue rose 28% to $43.1 billion, the company said, also beating estimates for $39.96 billion.
Shares of General Motors Co. jumped 4.4% before the opening bell today.
GM made record pretax income of $14.47 billion, the high end of its guidance of $13.5 billion to $14.5 billion. About 42,000 hourly auto workers will get profit-sharing checks of roughly $12,750, up from $10,250 in 2021. The profit sharing will cost GM about $500 million.
The company also announced that it will invest $650 million in Lithium Americas to jointly develop the Thacker Pass lithium mine in Nevada. Lithium is a key element in electric vehicle batteries, and GM says Thacker Pass is the largest known source of lithium in the U.S. and the third largest in the world. GM has plans to produce 1 million EVs per year by 2025.
Paul Jacobson, GM’s chief financial officer, told reporters today that the company has no plans to cut electric vehicle prices in response to recent price cuts by Tesla and Ford.
“We feel we’re well positioned,” he said. “We’re going to continue to watch that, but our customers are saying that our vehicles are priced well based on the demand that we’re seeing.”
GM’s performance came against the backdrop of a slowing economy due to interest rate increases from the Federal Reserve. The Fed’s key rate, which affects many consumer and business loans, is now in a range of 4.25% to 4.5%, up from near zero last March.
GM, like other automakers, had trouble keeping its factories running at full output during 2022, but the industry and the company started showing signs of recovery late in the year.
GM sold 2.27 million vehicles for the year, up 2.5% over 2021. But fourth-quarter sales were up 41% to more than 623,000. By the end of the year the supply of vehicles on dealer lots had improved 14% to almost 411,000.
Experts don’t expect a return to normal vehicle supplies until sometime next year.
For the full year, GM posted net earnings to shareholders of $9.93 billion, down about 1% from 2021. That beat analysts’ estimates of $9.95 billion.
GM said it expects full year net income this year in a range of $8.7 billion to $10.1 billion. The forecast for adjusted pretax income is $10.5 billion to $12.5 billion. The pretax income guidance is below figures for 2022, but Jacobson said the company still has a bullish outlook for this year.
Although it’s aware of recession forecasts, Jacobson said GM still sees strong demand for its vehicles, especially newer models. GM, he said, plans to make about $2 billion in cost reductions during the next two years, in part by filling only strategically important jobs that are vacated due to attrition.
Guidance for this year is lower than last because earnings from GM’s financial unit are expected to be down as used car prices drop, interest rates go up and leasing declines, he said. Plus, the company will see about $1 billion less in pension income this year for accounting purposes, he said.
“Were going to continue to watch it,” Jacobson said. “We want to make sure that we’re cautious and prepared for going forwad as well, but we’ve got lots of new products coming during the year and the year’s gotten off to a good start on pricing.”
GM’s average U.S. vehicle sales price in the fourth quarter was $52,833 due largely to a higher mix of expensive trucks and SUVs. That’s down about $1,000 from the same period in 2021, according to Edmunds.com.