GM beats (GM)

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DETROIT — General Motors reported fourth-quarter and full-year 2016 earnings on Tuesday.

The automaker said fourth-quarter net income fell to $1.19 a share, factoring out one-time items, in part because of $500 million in foreign exchange losses, and the company forecast 2017 profits per share would be flat to slightly up from 2016.

The adjusted result beat analyst expectations of $1.17 per share.

GM said fourth quarter net income fell to $1.8 billion from $6.3 billion, or $3.92 a share, a year earlier.

Factoring out one-time items, GM said it earned $2.4 billion, or $1.28 a share, in the latest quarter, down 14 percent from a year earlier.

GM forecast adjusted earnings per share for all of 2017 would range between $6.00 and $6.50 a share, compared to $6.12 a share for all of 2016.

A strong theme in GM’s business for several years has been capital efficiency and the return of capital to shareholders — a theme that defined 2016.

GM “returned $4.8 billion to shareholders in 2016 through share buybacks of $2.5 billion and dividends of $2.3 billion,” the company said in a statement.

“Since 2012, GM has returned more than $18 billion, which represents more than 90 percent of available free cash flow to shareholders during the 2012-2016 period.”

GM shares moved slightly higher in pre-market trading on Tuesday, up over 1% to $37. After languishing for much of the past year, the stock is up 15% since the beginning of 2017.

The strong results for 2016 came on the back of strong sales.

“GM sold a record 10 million vehicles around the world, up 1.2 percent from 2015,” the company said.

“In Q4, GM sold 2.78 million vehicles, up 3.3 percent compared to Q4 2015. December 2016 global volume of 1.05 million units was the highest in the company’s history, capping the fourth consecutive record year for global deliveries.”

Like its Detroit rivals, Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, GM has enjoyed a sales boom in the US for profitable pickup trucks and SUVs. Cheap gas and an improving economy have driven sales and enabled all three major US car companies to mount an impressive comeback from the financial crisis, when both GM and FCA had to be bailed out by the federal government before entering bankruptcy.

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(Reporting by Bernie Woodall and Joseph White; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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