Overall sales weakness weighs on GM in 1st quarter

Combined Shape

Americans paid more for some General Motors vehicles in the first quarter, but overall sales declined and the automaker’s results fell short of expectations.

GM delivered more than 665,000 vehicles in the U.S. with the highest average prices for any first quarter in its history. Sales of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra light-duty trucks rose 20% year from a year ago, priced nearly $5,800 higher than models they replaced.

But overall vehicle sales in the U.S. dropped. In North America, sales fell to 775,000 vehicles from 827,000 vehicles. In the Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa region, vehicle sales declined to 947,000 from 1.1 billion.

GM has been attacked by President Donald Trump, who sent off a series of tweets last month condemning the automaker for shutting its small-car factory in Lordstown, Ohio, east of Cleveland. Trump demanded that GM reopen the plant or sell it, criticized the local union leader and expressed frustration with CEO Mary Barra.

GM did announce plans to add 400 jobs and build a new electric vehicle at a factory north of Detroit. It’s also announced plans to spend about another $1.4 billion at U.S. factories but has not released a time frame or details. In addition, GM said Tuesday that it is adding a second shift and more than 400 new jobs at its Bowling Green, Kentucky plant to support production of the next-generation Corvette.

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In November, GM announced plans to shut the four U.S. factories and one in Canada. That will cost about 3,300 workers in the U.S. their jobs, as well as 2,600 in Canada. Another 8,000 white-collar workers have been targeted for layoffs. The company said cuts are necessary to stay financially healthy as GM faces large capital expenditures as it shifts to electric and autonomous vehicles.

For the three months ended March 31, GM earned $2.12 billion, or $1.48 per share. A year earlier it earned $1.03 billion, or 72 cents per share.

Removing certain items, earnings were $1.41 per share. Analysts polled by FactSet expected $1.69 per share.

Revenue fell to $34.88 billion from $36.1 billion. Wall Street expected $35.22 billion in revenue.

Shares of General Motors Co. dropped 2.8 percent before the market opened.

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