GM profits hurt by Europe slowdown

The logo of General Motors, seen in Detroit, Mich.
AP Photo/Paul Sancya

DETROIT General Motors' net income fell 14 percent in the first quarter, weighed down by losses in Europe and weaker earnings in North America.

GM earned $865 million, or 58 cents per share, compared with $1 billion, or 60 cents per share, in the January-March period a year ago. Excluding one-time items, GM earned 67 cents per share in the latest quarter. Analysts were expecting 54 cents, according to FactSet.

Revenue fell 2.3 percent, to $36.9 billion from $37.8 billion. But the top-line number still surpassed Wall Street expectations of $36.6 billion. GM shares rose 4.3 percent to $31.48 in premarket trading.

Worldwide sales rose 3.6 percent to more than 2.3 million cars and trucks. GM saw record first-quarter sales of 816,373 vehicles in China, up 10 percent from the same quarter a year ago. Among the hot sellers was the Cadillac XTS full-size sedan, which went on sale in China in February. Chinese buyers snapped up more than 2,000 XTS sedans in March alone, despite a steep starting price of $56,000.

The Cadillac XTS and smaller ATS also gave GM a boost in the U.S., where first-quarter sales rose 9 percent to 664,963. GM outpaced the industry's gain of 6 percent. U.S. Cadillac sales jumped 38 percent while Buick sales rose 27.5 percent, thanks to the new Verano small car and Encore small utility.

Sales of the Chevrolet Silverado full-size truck rose 22 percent in the U.S., boosted by an increase in home building and other construction.

Still, GM's profit in North America dropped 12.5 percent to $1.4 billion.

In Europe, where GM is in the midst of a multi-year restructuring to deal with falling sales, losses narrowed to $175 million from $294 million a year ago.

One-time items in the 2013 first quarter included a charge for currency devaluation in Venezuela.