GM earnings fall in fourth quarter but still beat earnings expectations by 1 cent per share

Wednesday, January 16th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

DETROIT (AP) _ General Motors Corp. earned $255 million in the fourth quarter of 2001, less than half of its earnings a year earlier but still enough to beat Wall Street expectations.

The world's biggest automaker reported Wednesday it earned 60 cents a share for the last three months of the year. That was a penny a share more than the revised forecast by analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial/First Call.

During the fourth quarter of 2000, GM earned $609 million, or $1.15 a share. Revenue rose to $45.95 billion in the quarter from $45 billion a year earlier.

GM's global automotive operations earned $66 million in the fourth quarter compared with $393 million in the fourth quarter of 2000. The automaker said sales volume fell 6 percent globally, blaming ``strong pricing competition'' in North America for the decline. It said price pressure and a shift in consumer preference for smaller, less expensive vehicles in Europe also were factors in the falloff.

The automaker's fortunes turned after the Sept. 11 terror attacks when it kicked off its ``Keep America Rolling'' program, offering no-interest financing on many of its vehicles.

Ford Motor Co. and the Chrysler Group of DaimlerChrysler AG followed suit, sparking a late year sales binge that pushed 2001 to the second best in history with 17.1 million vehicles sold industrywide.

GMAC, the automaker's credit arm, earned $435 million in the quarter, up more than 6 percent from the same three-month period in 2000.

The fourth quarter results were an improvement over GM's third-quarter loss of $368 million, or 41 cents a share.

For the year, GM earned $1.48 billion, or $3.23 a share, down from $4.97 billion, or $8.58 a share, a year ago. Revenue for the year fell to $177.27 billion from $183.29 billion in 2000.

GM plans to boost earnings through aggressive cost-cutting measures, including job reductions and negotiating lower prices from suppliers, GM vice chairman and CFO John Devine told financial analysts last week.

The company intends to reduce its salaried work force by 10 percent each year _ about 4,700 jobs in 2002 _ through attrition and voluntary buyouts, Devine said.