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April 19, 2005

Does General Motors Have Three Years to Live?

This is not good:

FT.com / Industries / Autos - GM abandons profit forecast after $1.1bn loss: General Motors on Tuesday abandoned its profit prediction for the year as the world's biggest carmaker reported a quarterly loss of $1.1bn, its worst in more than a decade.... GM said uncertainty about efforts to deal with its "healthcare cost crisis" and other key parts of its business meant it could not provide any guidance for profits this year.... The withdrawal of the forecast came as the automotive business reported a first quarter operating cash outflow of $3bn, more than the $2bn revised target the company had previously set for the full year.... The cashflow has been closely watched as investors anticipate a downgrade of GM's credit rating to junk bond status, a move which would force many investment-grade bond funds to sell their holdings in one of the world%u2019s top five borrowers.

Rick Wagoner, chairman and chief executive, said the problems lay with the north American business, which he took direct control of last month. GM has been hammered in the US by rising healthcare costs and cuts to production in order to reduce stocks of unsold cars at dealerships.... This is the worst figure since accounting changes in 1992, when GM was on the verge of bankruptcy, led to a quarterly loss of $21bn.... GM said its cash and easily realisable investments stood at $19.8bn at the end of March, down from $23.3bn at the start of the year.

Posted by DeLong at April 19, 2005 09:27 PM