General Motors Co posted a first-quarter profit on Monday and said it is making progress toward a turnaround expected to put it on track toward its first full-year profit since 2004.
Chris Liddell, GM's chief financial officer, said the first-quarter results showed that the top U.S. automaker was making progress and had a good chance of turning a full-year profit.
But he declined to offer any forecast for the remainder of the year and said that while an initial public offering was possible over the next year, the timing remained uncertain.
Now that we have achieved profitability, the next step is to achieve sustainable profitability, Liddell told reporters at GM's Detroit headquarters.
GM received $50 billion of U.S. government financing for its restructuring in bankruptcy and has been aiming to launch an initial public offering that would allow the U.S. government to reduce its majority stake in the automaker later this year.
Revenue rose to $31.48 billion from $22.43 billion in the pre-bankruptcy GM a year before. Net income -- after preferred stock dividends of $203 million to the U.S. and Canadian governments and GM's major union -- was $865 million, compared with a loss of $5.98 billion a year before.
Under the terms of GM's restructuring, almost 61 percent of the automaker is owned by the U.S. government. Canada and the province of Ontario own nearly 12 percent.
GM posted a $4.3 billion loss in 2009 for the period between July, when it emerged from a bankruptcy steered by the Obama administration, until the end of the year.
The results underscore the progress GM has made in slashing costs by reducing debt, cutting jobs, closing factories and dropping unprofitable brands like Hummer, Saab and Saturn. GM now relies on four core brands -- Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac.
Analysts have said GM still faces steep challenges in repairing the reputation of its brands in its home market and reversing a long-running slide in market share.
Ford Motor Co posted a $2.1 billion first-quarter profit and has forecast that it will be solidly profitable for 2010, a year ahead of its initial turnaround target.
GM's smaller rival Chrysler, now operating under the management control of Fiat SpA , posted a net loss of $197 million in the first quarter, but Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne said the automaker could raise its 2010 financial targets based on those results.
GM Chief Executive Ed Whitacre, the former AT&T CEO who was brought in by the U.S. Treasury to oversee GM's turnaround, said last month that an IPO that would make GM a listed company again was a possibility later this year or in 2011.
In a step aimed at strengthening GM's ability to compete ahead of a possible IPO, Whitacre and other GM executives have been looking at options that would allow the automaker to reestablish a captive auto financing arm, people with knowledge of the plans said last week.
Liddell on Monday said that while GM needs access to financing, he was not sure the automaker needs a captive financial arm.
Such a move would mark a nearly complete reversal of the process that started in late 2006 when GM sold off a controlling stake in GMAC to Cerberus Capital Management in order to raise cash for its own restructuring.
Detroit-based GMAC, now known as Ally Financial, is 56-percent owned by the U.S. Treasury after the government injected $17 billion as part of a restructuring that also saw the finance company become a commercial bank.
(Reporting by Kevin Krolicki and David Bailey, editing by Gerald E. McCormick, Dave Zimmerman)