DETROIT -- General Motors' first-quarter pretax profit surged 28 percent -- even while its global sales slipped -- as the company aggressively cut costs in troubled regions and sold pricier vehicles across its key markets.
GM said today its pretax operating income -- the figure the company considers most reflective of its underlying performance -- rose 28 percent, to $2.66 billion. That amounted to a pretax profit of $1.26 a share, hurdling the $1-a-share average forecast of analysts, compiled by Reuters.
The improved results were broad-based: Each of GM’s four operating regions posted a stronger bottom line, even as economic headwinds made it tougher to do business in several markets globally. That was especially true in South America, where GM shored up its losses to $67 million, from $214 million a year earlier, despite a 26 percent slide in sales there.
GM narrowly missed breaking even in Europe, posting a $6 million pretax loss, vs. a $239 million loss in the same period a year earlier. The company has long targeted 2016 as the year it finally stanches the flow of red ink there.