DETROIT -- General Motors last week reported its sixth straight quarterly loss. But company executives said turnaround efforts are taking root.
A more favorable product mix and fewer incentives cut the size of GM's loss in the first three months of this year compared with the same period of 2005.
GM reported a net loss of $323 million in the quarter, compared with a net loss of $1.3 billion in the year-ago quarter. Revenue rose 14.1 percent to $52.2 billion.
Also last week, Ford Motor Co. reported a net loss of $1.19 billion in the first quarter. One-time charges, related to employee buyouts and other turnaround costs, totaled $1.65 billion.
Ford executives called the charges substantial but expected as they try to stanch red ink. CEO Bill Ford predicted the company would return to profitability no later than 2008.
Ford Motor expects the one-time charges related to the turnaround to total $3.4 billion this year.
The company now expects its North American market share in 2006 to be down or flat compared with 2005. It started the year predicting its share would be flat or up.
Market share drops
Both Ford and GM were hobbled by falling U.S. market share in the first quarter. GM's share, including Saab, dropped 1.6 percentage points, to 24.1 percent.
Ford Motor's share, including its foreign brands, fell 0.8 percentage points, to 18.7 percent.
North American operations remained a headache for both companies. GM North America posted adjusted net income, excluding restructuring charges, of $946 million in the quarter.
Ford Motor reported a loss of $457 million in North America, before taxes and one-time charges.
The overseas regions of both companies posted net-income gains.
To boost profits in North America, GM said in January that it would cut sticker prices and incentives, reduce low-profit sales to daily rental fleets and trim dealer margins.
"There's no huge accounting effect yet (from the pricing strategy), because we had to account for all the vehicles we still had in inventory," Mark LaNeve, GM's vice president of North American vehicle sales, service and marketing, said during a conference call.
Per-vehicle revenue up
But GM North America's revenue per vehicle in the first quarter improved by $1,012 compared with the year-ago period, CFO Fritz Henderson said.
The new pricing strategy accounted for only part of GM's improvement. The company's redesigned full-sized SUVs boosted per-vehicle revenue, as did the phaseout of the Pontiac Grand Am, Chevrolet Blazer and Chevrolet Malibu Classic, Henderson said.
Ford Motor sold about 1,722,000 vehicles worldwide in the first quarter, roughly 6,000 more than in the first quarter of 2005. But automotive revenue fell by $2.3 billion, to $37.0 billion.
Said Ford CFO Don Leclair last week, "It's a difficult pricing environment."
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