Why GM Earnings Failed to Impress Investors

When General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) reported first-quarter 2019 results before markets opened Tuesday morning, the automaker posted adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $1.41 on revenues of $34.88 billion. In the same period a year ago, the company reported EPS of $1.43 on revenues of $36.1 billion. First-quarter results also compare to the consensus estimates for EPS of $1.11 and $35.21 billion in revenues.

Net income for the quarter totaled $2.15 billion, up from $1.04 billion in the year-ago quarter. Adjusted pretax (EBIT) earnings totaled $2.31 billion, down by 11.5% from $2.61 billion in the year-ago quarter.

GM said that its average transaction price rose to 35,767, about $2,400 above the industry average. Total automotive revenues came to $31.26 billion in the quarter, down by 4.4% from $32.69 billion in the first quarter of last year.

North American sales were 0.3 percentage points lower than in the same quarter last year, and sales volume dropped by 6.3% to 775,000 units. The only segment posting a year-over-year gain in volume was crossovers. Chevrolet truck sales were down by 26,000 to 197,000 in the quarter, and GMC truck sales dropped 5,000 to 126,000 units.

Volume sales also declined in China, GM’s largest market. In the company’s two joint ventures (JVs), sales dropped by 61,000 units in the SAIC JV and 97,000 in the JV with Wuling. GM did not break out revenues in China, but total revenue in its Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa region fell nearly 12% year over year.

CEO Mary Barra commented:

GM’s first-quarter operating results were in line with expectations we shared in January. My confidence in the year ahead remains strong, driven by our all-new full-size truck launch and our ongoing business transformation.

GM reiterated full-year EPS guidance of $6.20 but provided no additional information about the future. Consensus estimates call for second-quarter EPS of $1.68 and revenues of $36.33 billion. For the full year, analysts are looking for EPS of $6.53 and revenues of $146.75 billion.

The company’s first quarter was neither a flop nor a boom, and investors were clearly expecting more boom. Shares traded down about 3% at $38.80 early Tuesday, in a 52-week range of $30.56 to $45.00. The 12-month consensus price target on the stock is $47.21.