GM Posts $3.4 Billion 4Q Loss, Optimistic About 2010

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Nearly a year after filing for bankruptcy protection, General Motors says it continues to lose money. The company posted a $3.4 billion loss for the fourth quarter of last year. But company leaders say they're making progress on a turnaround, despite the dismal numbers.

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And General Motors has posted its first financial report since filing for bankruptcy last year. At first glance, the numbers do not look good: a $3.4 billion loss for the fourth quarter of 2009. But company leaders and analysts say there are some positive developments hidden in those dismal numbers. Dustin Dwyer of Michigan Radio has our report.

DUSTIN DWYER: General Motors came out of bankruptcy calling itself the new GM. But yesterday the company's results seemed to tell the same old story. Leaders disclosed a massive financial loss, owing largely to one-time charges, like a payment to the UAW retiree health care system.

But David Whiston of the investment research firm Morningstar says people shouldn't worry too much about the loss. Focus instead on the tens of billions of dollars in liabilities that the company shed, and that it's now positioned to make money even in a depressed market of about 10 million U.S. vehicle sales per year.

Mr. DAVID WHISTON (Morningstar): If you believe that sales will be well above 10, 11 million, which I do, then GM's going to be printing money.

DWYER: GM's new chief financial officer, Chris Liddell, says the company does have a shot at profitability in 2010, but he won't go beyond that.

Mr. CHRIS LIDDELL (Chief Financial Officer, GM): I think there is a danger and this company has possibly been guilty of this in the past - of over-promising and under-delivering. I would rather turn that around the other way. I would rather under-promise and hopefully over-deliver.

DWYER: Liddell says for now, GM is working to repay its government loans and prepare for a new stock offering.

For NPR News, I'm Dustin Dwyer in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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