Revenue dropped 25 percent year-over-year to $26.8 billion, and adjusted earnings before interest and taxes fell 45 percent to $2.9 billion. For the first nine months of 2021, GM's adjusted EBIT totaled $11.5 billion, which already is at the low end of its previous full-year projection of $11.5 billion to $13.5 billion.
The automaker's operating margin fell 4 percentage points from a year ago to 10.9 percent.
GM earned $2.1 billion in North America, 51 percent less than a year ago, despite strong pricing and mix.
GM’s North American plant utilization, based on two-shift capacity, was just 60 percent in the third quarter, down from 112 percent a year earlier, when multiple plants were running on overtime to make up for the shutdowns at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. For the year, GM’s capacity utilization rate is 81 percent, down from 85 percent through three quarters of 2020.
GM shares fell 5.4 percent to close the day at $54.26 on Wall Street.
Earnings from GM Financial declined 9 percent to $1.1 billion, while the GM International region posted a $229 million profit, versus just $10 million a year earlier. China equity income rose 3.1 percent to $270 million.
Barra said the high pricing created by the shortage of available inventory is largely why the company is on pace to hit the high end of its full-year guidance, along with its ability to keep full-size pickup and SUV production going while other plants have had lengthy downtime.
“We just can’t build enough of those vehicles,” she told reporters on a conference call.
Prices will stop surging after GM is able to replenish dealership lots, Barra said, but executives don’t expect to see a return to the levels of the past.
“We will have an inventory level that is quite a bit less than we held back in 2018 before some of the challenges with COVID and other things,” Barra said. “Obviously it’s got to be higher than it is right now.”