GM earns $1B, but Europe drags down results

Chevy Volt electric vehicles come off the line at the General Motors Detroit Hamtramck Assembly Plant, Oct. 11, 2011, in Hamtramck, Mich.

(AP) DETROIT - General Motors' (GM) net income fell sharply in the first quarter, hurt by losses in Europe and a big accounting charge.

But the results beat Wall Street estimates and GM turned in a strong performance in North America, lifting its stock price in pre-market trading Thursday.

GM earned $1 billion, or 60 cents per share, in the first quarter. That compared with $3.2 billion, or $1.77 per share, a year earlier, when earnings were boosted by the sale of GM's stake in a parts company.

In the latest quarter, the company lost $256 million before taxes in Europe and took a $590 million charge due to a change in its European pension values.

Chief Financial Officer Dan Amman said there won't be any "big bang" action to return Europe to profitability. "It's an ongoing set of actions," he said.

But GM's overall results got a boost from North America, where it earned $1.7 billion before taxes. GM also posted an $83 million profit in South America.

Quarterly revenue rose 4 percent to $37.8 billion.

Excluding one-time charges, GM earned 93 cents per share in the quarter. That soundly beat Wall Street estimates of 85 cents on revenue of $37.9 billion.

GM shares rose 63 cents, or 2.8 percent, to $23.56 in premarket trading.

The results were GM's sixth straight quarterly profit since its initial public stock offering in November 2010. The company posted a net profit of $3.2 billion in the first quarter of last year.