General Motors posted a 2-percent rise in net profit in the fourth quarter of 2013 to $913 million, on its way to logging its 16th straight quarterly profit. The carmaker also logged a 53-percent jump in earnings before interest and taxes and excluding nonrecurring items – which GM considers the best measure of its underlying performance -- to $1.9 billion, with several one-time items cutting around $200 million from the bottom line.
The one-off items included costs related to GM's wind-down of most of its Chevrolet sales in Europe and production in Australia. GM also logged a 3-percent rise in fourth-quarter revenue to $40.5 billion. Despite the seemingly strong results, it also emphasized a number of weak spots that the new executive team at GM, led by new chief executive Mary Barra, has to conquer.
For instance, GM posted losses in its International Operations business, excluding China. Likewise, GM saw its profits South America drop as sales slumped. While GM has managed to trim its losses in Europe, executives expect a challenging year of weak pricing and restructuring costs.
"Clearly we have a lot of work ahead to make all of our regions solidly and consistently profitable," Barra told analysts during her first earnings conference call. "It's going to be a multiyear journey that will include brand building, significant reductions in materials and logistics costs, and overall lower fixed costs."