3 Details Behind GM's Big Profits : Planet Money GM reported its biggest annual profit since 1999. The company has fewer workers, huge growth in China and a newfound faith in its own financial reporting.
NPR logo 3 Details Behind GM's Big Profits

3 Details Behind GM's Big Profits

David Duprey/AP
Chevy Camaro
David Duprey/AP

GM made a profit of $4.7 billion — its first annual profit since 2004 and its biggest profit since 1999.

As the LA Times notes,

Its profits were made possible by a 2009 bankruptcy and government bailout. The restructuring allowed GM to slash debt, cut employment, reduce health expenses, rewrite union contracts, winnow out surplus factories and trim the cost of building a vehicle by several thousand dollars.

That's the big picture.

Here are three details worth noting in the earnings statement the company released today:

1. GM cut its workforce some more last year — from 215,000 to 202,000 worldwide, and from from 103,000 to 96,000 in the U.S.

2. The company also sold a lot more cars last year — particularly in China, now the company's biggest market.

Jess Jiang/NPR
GM Sales
Jess Jiang/NPR

3. GM seems to in order. Last year, GM told investors that "our disclosure controls and procedures and our internal control over financial reporting are currently not effective."

In today's release, the company said it had solved that problem. Here's how you say that in a corporate press release:

...after assessing remediation actions that it put in place to address the company's material weakness regarding the financial reporting process, the management team and Audit Committee of the Board of Directors concluded that the material weakness no longer exists as of December 31, 2010