Why Investors Should Like GM Earnings

General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) reported first-quarter 2017 results before markets opened Friday. The automaker posted adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $1.70 on revenues of $41.2 billion. In the same period a year ago, the company reported EPS of $1.26 on revenues of $37.27 billion. First-quarter results also compare to the consensus estimates for EPS of $1.46 and $40.75 billion in revenues.

First-quarter net income rose 33.5% to $2.6 billion and North American adjusted pretax earnings (EBIT) totaled $3.4 billion, up nearly 22% year over year, and up nearly 30% sequentially. The company attributed the boost to strong volume, pricing and cost efficiencies.

European sales volume was up 2% but the region posted an EBIT loss of $200 million. The company previously announced the sale of its Opel Group to Peugeot. GM said that after the transaction closes, the company’s EBIT and cash flow will improve and GM will be able lower its cash balance by $2 billion. GM also will take a mostly noncash charge of $4.5 billion in connection with the transaction.

Global retail sales volumes decreased by 1.4% in the first quarter while global market share slipped by 20 basis points year over year to 10.4%. In the United States, share was up 0.4 points to 16.8%, European share dipped 0.3 points to 5.9%, Latin American share rose 0.1 points to 15.7%, and Asia/Pacific, Middle East, Africa sales dipped 0.3 points to 9.5%. Fleet sales declined from 21.7% to 20.7% of retail sales.

Retail sales in China fell 5.2%, due primarily to a change in the government’s vehicle tax purchase incentive on small-engine cars.

In the United States, passenger car market share fell year over year from 12.5% to 11.9%, truck market share rose from 25.2% to 25.3% and crossover market share rose from 13.8% to 15.1%. Crossover sales rose 16% year over year and truck sales rose 3%.

Mary Barra, the company’s CEO, said:

Our first-quarter results reflect our resolve to grow profitably and demonstrate the strong earnings power of this company. More importantly, we advanced our strategic plan to transform GM for the long term and unlock more value for our shareholders.

The company did not provide guidance with its announcement. Consensus estimates call for second-quarter EPS of $1.75 and revenues of $41.8 billion. For the full year, analysts are looking for EPS of $5.97 and revenues of $162.97 billion.

In the quarter, GM paid $600 million in dividends, and said the company expects to return up to $7 billion to shareholders through dividends and buybacks during 2017.

GM’s shares traded up about 1.7% in Tuesday’s premarket session, at $35.16 in a 52-week range of $27.34 to $38.55. The 12-month price target for the shares was $39.90 before this report.