America's Biggest Automaker Reports Over $6 Billion Profit

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GM managed to make money despite the pandemic.

Joining the 2020 sales party a little late, General Motors has announced its earnings for the past year. While total profit has dropped by 4.5 percent in 2020, thanks to a strong second half of the year it managed to earn a very decent $6.43 billion. In the fourth quarter alone it brought in $2.85 billion.

GM reported revenue of $122 billion last year, down from $137 billion in 2019. Pre-tax earnings for its North American operations came to $9 billion, a full $1 billion increase from last year. GM International, however, lost $528 million, a troubling number given that this division lost $202 million in 2019. However, the automaker did manage to achieve a $4.5 billion cost-savings goal set in 2018. All told, GM ended last year with $22.3 billion in available cash and total liquidity of over $40 billion.

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The pandemic wasn't GM's only problem last year. The ongoing Takata airbag recall was also a costly endeavor. Following multi-week closures, GM's North American factories got back up and running last May. Despite the noble efforts, none were able to make up for the production interruptions. This resulted in an inventory shortage just when consumers were anxious to buy new vehicles again, specifically trucks and SUVs. The Chevy Blazer is a prime example. Supply issues continue to impede Corvette production this month as well. However, those who did buy trucks and SUVs loaded them up with features that greatly helped GM's bottom line.

Of the $122.49 billion total revenue, $37.52 billion came in Q4, surpassing previous estimates. Despite this positive news, GM still faces many pandemic-related challenges. The most significant one right now is the industry-wide semiconductor chip shortage.

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GM has already had to cancel production shifts at some factories but CEO Mary Barra, along with other automaker leaders, predicts this shortage will be resolved later this year. The good news is that the lack of chips won't affect the factories that build those profitable trucks and SUVs. Ironically enough, it's those gas guzzlers that are helping to fuel profits for electric vehicle investments.

Late last month, GM pledged it will cease building combustion engine passenger vehicles completely by 2035 and become an EV-only automaker. This coming weekend, its bread and butter Chevrolet brand will unveil a heavily updated Bolt EV and the new Bolt EUV, a Tesla Model Y rival. By 2030, GM will have introduced 30 battery electric vehicles in America.

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