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GM profit down, but "seeds planted" for growth, says CEO

General Motors

General Motors made nearly $5 billion in 2012.

That's down a lot from 2011, when the company made $7.6 billion.

But GM CEO Dan Akerson says it was a strong year for the company nonetheless.

He says G-M "planted the seeds of growth in every region of the world."

The Detroit automaker reduced its pension obligations, bought an international finance division, and put new cars in the pipeline for 2013 and beyond.

Akerson also noted the U.S. Treasury's intent to sell its remaining G-M shares by next spring.

"Clarity on the government's sell-down strategy is important," he told analysts on a conference call, "because it will help us attract new investors, recruit the best talent, and strengthen our brands. That's why we're eager to put this chapter behind us."

A big part of the reason for the lower profit was a steep rise in losses in Europe.  Like almost every car company with a significant presence in Europe, GM lost money in the region last year -- $1.8 billion, compared to a loss of $700,000 in 2011. 

But the company made a profit in South America, where the year previous it lost money. 

The Detroit-based automaker also improved earnings slightly in China, despite the country's economic slowdown, and maintained earnings in North America -- despite losing some market share last year. 

The earnings will be shared with GM's 49,000 union workers in the U.S., who will get profit-sharing checks of about sixty-seven hundred dollars.


Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.