GM (GM): No Size Is Right Size, Dividend Or Not

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GM’s (GM) problem is that there is no "correct" size for its North American operations. While it is in fine shape overseas, especially in Latin America, Russia, and China, there is no way for the car company to call a bottom to the domestic market. Total vehicle sales in the US could be only 14 million this year, down over 2 million from 2007. Next year will be no better.

GM’s other problem is that retooling the company’s plants and cutting personnel does not get the company into the small and hybrid car business fast enough. Toyota (TM), Honda (HMC), and Nissan already hold the high-ground in this segment. Moving in is not a matter of cutting costs and bring out new products. In places like California, these foreign brands have over 50% of the market already.,

To save cash, GM will cut its dividend. In addition, it plans to raise $15 billion in cash by the end of next year. With a current market cap of $5 billion, the dilution will be tremendous. It also plans to sell about $4 billion in assets.

GM will do what all troubled companies do–fire people. It this case 20% of remaining salaried staff. It may reach the point where it does not have enough marketing and product management staff to effectively run the company.

The war in GM hopes to prevail, in its own market, may no longer be one it can win. If it does have a chance, it will take more than two or three years and $15 billion.

Douglas A. McIntyre