Why GM Earnings Put Investors in a Buying Frame of Mind

General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) reported third-quarter 2018 results before markets opened Wednesday. The automaker posted adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $1.87 on revenues of $35.79 billion. In the same period a year ago, the company reported EPS of $1.32 on revenues of $33.62 billion. Third-quarter results also compare to the consensus estimates for EPS of $1.25 and $34.85 billion in revenues.

Net income for the quarter totaled $2.5 billion, up from a net loss of $2.98 billion in the year-ago quarter related to the sale of its Opel/Vauxhall business. Adjusted pretax (EBIT) earnings totaled $3.2 billion, up 25% year over year.

GM said that its average transaction price rose to a third-quarter record of more than $36,000, an increase of about $800 year over year and $4,000 higher than the industry average. Total automotive revenues came to $32.28 billion in the quarter, up 5.9% from $30.47 billion in the third quarter of last year.

It’s a good thing the transaction prices rose because sales volumes were down in every geographic region and for every brand. North American sales were 9.8% lower than in the same quarter last year, and China sales were down 14.9%. Total third-quarter sales were down 14.7%, from about 2.32 million units to 1.98 million. For the year to date, U.S. sales are down 1.8% and China sales are down 2.5%. Including Europe and international sales, GM’s year-to-date total is down 12.4%, mostly a result of the sale of its European business.

By brand, Chevy sales were down 8.3% year over year, Buick sales were down 17.1% and Cadillac sales were down 3.9%. For the year to date, Chevy sales are down 0.3%, Buick sales are down 8.6% but Cadillac sales are up 8.8%.

Mary Barra, the company’s CEO, said:

Our third-quarter performance demonstrates our determination to manage risks and deliver strong business results while continuing to advance the future of mobility.

GM raised its adjusted full-year EPS guidance from $6.00 a share $6.20. Consensus estimates call for fourth-quarter EPS of $1.36 and revenues of $37.11 billion. For the full year, analysts are looking for EPS of $5.89 and revenues of $145.5 billion.

It’s worth noting that the full-year estimates dropped sharply over the course of the third quarter. When GM reported second-quarter results in July, analysts were looking for EPS of $6.41 and revenues of $145.98 billion for the full year.

GM’s shares traded up nearly 7% early Wednesday to $35.77, in a 52-week range of $30.56 to $45.52. The 12-month price target for the shares was $44.60 before this morning’s report.

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