The 40-day United Auto Workers strike hurt General Motors during the fourth quarter, but it still managed beat some expectations in its earnings report.
GM CFO: “From a share price standpoint, we’re very bullish on the future.”
GM (NYSE: GM) lost $194 million in the fourth quarter of 2019, and in the last three months the UAW strike hit the company’s earnings to the tune of $2.6 billion before taxes and interest, while the overall cost of the strike for 2019 topped $3.6 billion.
The 4Q report was a mixed bag, with earnings beating expectations but revenue coming up short. Wall Street expected a 1-cent-per-share increase, according to Refinitiv consensus analysis. GM beat that, reporting a 5-cent-per-share increase Wednesday. Revenue missed the mark slightly with $30.8 billion reported versus $31.04 expected.
Shares were up slightly on the news. The stock was trading up 0.5%, or 16 cents, at $34.54 per share at 2 p.m. EST on Wednesday, but that’s still only slightly above GM’s introductory IPO price of $33 back in 2010.
The company’s guidance for 2020 includes adjusted earnings of between $5.75 and $6.25 per share. Adjusted operating cash flow is projected between $13 billion and $14.5 billion.
GM’s operating profit (earnings before interest and taxes) was still in a good spot for 2019, but it paints a picture of how much the strike affected the company. It hit $8.4 billion operating profits in 2019 (only $105 million of which came in Q4), compared to $11.8 billion the year prior. The fourth quarter of 2018 saw $8.4 billion come in.
GM CFO: The Future Is Bright
“In 2019, the core operating results were strong,” Suryadevara said during a briefing with reporters Wednesday.
GM struggled internationally, losing $202 million with $120 million of those losses in the fourth quarter. Profits in China were sliced almost in half to $1.1 billion compared to $2 billion in 2018. But Suryadevara said the companies long-term outlook in China is bullish, and wouldn’t comment on the overall impact the coronavirus outbreak will have on the business going forward.
“It’s a fluid situation,” Suryadevara said of the coronavirus. “Our focus is really on our employees and their safety first. From a business standpoint, we are assessing the impact on demand, the impact on global supply chain and we’ve activated contingency plans across the enterprise. People are working around the clock here trying to mitigate the impact of this going forward, but it’s early days and it’s very fluid.”
CEO Mary Barra has made it a point to shift GM’s focus into the electric vehicles market, trying to cut into Tesla’s market share. The electric automaker has experienced a market frenzy since reporting its earnings last week, with its stock value increasing around 33% during Monday and Tuesday’s trading alone.
GM’s market cap of around $50 billion is less than one-third of Tesla, which touched $160 billion before a sell-off Tuesday afternoon that continued into Wednesday, but Suryadevara believes GM is a “a compelling investment opportunity” with a “unique position” in the electric vehicle market.
GM has plans for at least 20 new EV models around the world by 2023. The company confirmed one last week with the resurrection of the gas-guzzling GMC Hummer as a super-powered EV with 1,000 horsepower and other impressive specs.
“We’re all in and we’re very excited about it,” Suryadevara said of the company’s overall EV strategy. “From a share price standpoint, we’re very bullish on the future and what we’re going to do is put those proof points on the board to make sure that that’s clear to all investors as well.”