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GM Reports Net Loss of $839 Million for Quarter

North American Operations Blamed for Biggest Decline in a Decade

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DETROIT ( -- General Motors Corp. today reported its worst quarterly performance in more than a decade.

Photo: General Motors
The news from Renaissance Center in Detroit is that General Motors Corp. had its worst quarter in more than a decade.

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The troubled automaker, which has reshuffled its management ranks while trying to shore up eroding market share, reported a net loss of $839 million in the first quarter compared with a gain of $1.2 billion in the year-ago period.

Revenues down 4%
The world's biggest automaker said its revenues in the last quarter fell 4.3% to $45.8 billion compared with a year ago. Even earnings of $728 million for the quarter by the company's financial arm, General Motors Acceptance Corp., wasn't enough to buoy the overall results.

The automaker's core global automotive operations reported a net loss of $1.3 billion in the first quarter, compared with earnings of $561 million for the same period last year.

North American operations
Its North American auto operations arm was the main reason for GM's red ink, reporting a first-quarter loss of $1.3 billion, compared with earnings of $401 million a year ago. GM said the weakness reflected lower vehicle sales and production, a tougher pricing environment, an unfavorable sales mix and a large health-care burden.

GM's market share in North America was 25.2% in the period, down from 26.3% a year ago. The results are in line with GM's guidance issued last month.

Product introductions
Chairman-CEO Rick Wagoner said, "While most of our business units exceeded expectations, the results at GM North America were clearly disappointing." He went on to say that the automaker's plans include "aggressive product introductions this year, value-focused marketing initiatives, and further reductions in our cost structure, where the greatest need is to address the challenging health-care cost situation."

He added that while North American vehicle sales improved in March, GM significantly reduced production volumes in the first quarter to balance inventories. While that move cut dealer inventory by nearly 100,000 units from the year-ago period, it had a negative impact on North American financial results.

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