GM's 115M loss is much better than last year

GM reduced its liability for paying benefits to Delphi workers.
DETROIT (AP) -- General Motors Corp. posted a smaller 115 million loss for the third quarter Wednesday, saying its results reflected benefits of its turnaround plan. Wall Street was unimpressed, driving GM's shares down more than 4 percent.
The world's biggest automaker said that excluding special charges, it would have earned 529 million in the period.
Its sales rose nearly 4 percent and it said the losses in both its global and North American automotive operations shrank as its efforts to cut costs have begun to show results. But it continued to lose market share.
Globally, GM's market share in the quarter was 13.9 percent, down from 14.4 percent during the same quarter of last year. It dropped nearly a full point in the U.S. from 26 percent last year to 25.1 percent this year, losing share mainly to Asian competitors.
Its shares dropped 1.48 to 34.71 in trading on the New York Stock Exchange. GM's loss amounted to 20 cents per share for the July-September period and was far better than its loss of 1.7 billion, or 2.94 per share, a year earlier.
Earnings per share
The company said that excluding charges associated with the reorganization at Delphi Corp., its former parts division, and its lowered assessment of the value of its finance arm, it earned 93 cents per share in the latest quarter.
That beat Wall Street expectations. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial predicted the company to earn 49 cents per share excluding special charges.
But Morgan Stanley analyst Jonathan Steinmetz said the earnings report was "convoluted, with a litany of explicitly one-time items and several that are arguably one-time in nature." In addition, much of the improvement was due to reductions in future costs that won't save cash in the near term, such as changes in health benefits, he said.
GM said its third-quarter revenue totaled 48.8 billion, up from 47.1 billion during the same period last year.
'In right direction'
"This quarter's results reflect the work we've been doing, particularly on cost reduction, really beginning to take hold. This is the third quarter in a row where we've showed improvements of over a billion in our North American operations. ... Obviously not what we'd like but certainly with a billion-six improvement over last year, we're moving in the right direction," GM Chairman and Chief Executive Rick Wagoner said Wednesday morning on the CNBC cable network.
The company also reduced its estimated liability for employee benefits at Delphi to 6 billion to 7.5 billion, at the low end of previous estimates ranging from 5.5 billion to 12 billion. The company already has allocated 6 billion for the benefits.
Chief Financial Officer Fritz Henderson said negotiations with Delphi, which GM spun off as a separate company that is now operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, and its creditors, have progressed.

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