DETROIT (Reuters) -- General Motors said today it expects auditors to cast doubt on the automaker's ability to remain viable as it endures the worst market in decades.
GM posted a $9.6 billion net loss in the fourth quarter and a $5.9 billion operating loss as revenue plunged by more than a third. The automaker also warned its pension plans for hourly and salaried workers were underfunded by about $12.4 billion as of the end of 2008.
GM said it will likely receive a "going concern" notice from auditors, who will assess the risk that the automaker might not be able to continue as a going concern.
The company, which has been kept afloat with emergency loans from the U.S. government since the start of the year, posted a net loss of $30.9 billion for 2008. That ranked as the second largest annual loss for the 100-year-old automaker, behind only the $38.7 billion deficit recorded for 2007.
Last week, auditing firm Grant Thornton said such notices may be common as auto firms file their annual reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
"It's important for the public, the supply base and all of the parties involved in restructuring the auto industry not to overreact if they start seeing 'going concern' opinions," Kimberly Rodriguez, a principal in the firm's restructuring practice, said in a statement.
"We're in uncharted waters and auditors face extremely difficult decisions, but we believe the amount of direct government aid to the auto industry, the size of the economic stimulus package and the radical restructurings GM, Ford and Chrysler are undertaking will ultimately help salvage the industry."