DETROIT - General Motors posted healthy profits in the third quarter, despite weak results in Europe, Asia and South America.
GM reported third-quarter net income of $877 million on revenue of $42.8 billion, mainly on the strength of its North American market.
North American automotive operations provided third-quarter net income of $671 million, 37 percent more than in the third quarter of 1997. On a global basis, the company lost $309 million in the third quarter of 1998, primarily because of two UAW strikes in Flint, Mich.
GM's North American automotive operations lost $595 million in the third quarter of 1998. Through the first nine months of 1999, GM North America posted net income of $3.55 billion, compared with $52 million net income for the same period last year.
'The overall earnings were a bit better than expected,' said John Casesa, an analyst with Merrill Lynch in New York. 'North America really carried the day. Through the first nine months, 51 percent of GM's North American production was trucks.' For the same period last year, it was 48 percent.
Production and shipping woes, which had plagued the Chevrolet Silverado and the GMC Sierra pickups, have been ironed out, said GM CFO Mike Losh. Through the first nine months of the year, GM sold 1,954,000 trucks and 1,916,000 passenger cars to its dealers.
GM's U.S. market share rose to 29.7 percent in the first nine months of this year vs. 29.3 percent in the same period of 1998, according to the Automotive News Data Center.
GM Europe posted net income of $32 million in the third quarter, down from $50 million in the same period last year.
GM's European operations are 'holding their own,' Losh said. Its new cars, the Zafira and the Astra, were strong performers, he said. The facelifted, upscale Vectra struggled.
'Europe is moving down market,' Losh said, explaining why the Vectra did not fare as well as its smaller cousins.
Latin America/Africa/Mideast automotive operations lost $36 million for the third quarter, compared with a $64 million loss in the same period a year ago. In the Asia-Pacific region, GM posted a third quarter loss of $54 million, down from a breakeven third quarter last year.