General Motors (GM), one of the world's largest auto manufacturers, makes cars and trucks, with well known brands such as Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC. GM also builds cars through its GM Daewoo, Opel, Vauxhall, and Holden units. The company operates through five business segments: GM North America, GM Europe, GM International Operations, and GM South America. Financing activities are primarily conducted by General Motors Financial Company. The current iteration of GM traces its roots to mid-2009, when the former GM was split into two companies after it emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection: General Motors and Motors Liquidation (the name for leftover assets).
The government owned more than 60% of GM when it emerged from Chapter 11 in mid-2009. Responding to a wave of willing investors, GM's stock opened at the top of the price range set by the car maker. The IPO during its first day took in $15.8 billion and was one of the largest IPOs in US history.
The auto giant went through a six-week period of bankruptcy protection in 2009. GM was split into two companies when it emerged from Chapter 11 -- General Motors and Motors Liquidation (the name for leftover assets). In 2011 Motors Liquidation sold the majority of its assets, which encompassed almost 90 industrial sites in 14 states, which cleared the way for GM bondholders to receive stock in the new company.
GM has nearly 15 locations in Canada and operations in roughly 60 countries.
The company operates through five business segments. GM North America (GMNA) generates 58% of its total sales and has operations in Canada, Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean, and the US. GM International Operations (GMIO) operates in the Asia/Pacific, Eastern Europe, and Africa and generates 17% of sales. GM Europe (GME), 14% of sales, caters to Europe and Russia.
GM South America (GMSA), 10% of sales, has operations in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela. GM Financial accounts for the remainder of revenue.
GM has enjoyed three straight years of revenue growth. Revenues increased by 1% from $150.3 billion in 2011 to $152.3 billion in 2012, the highest total since the recession in 2008. Its profits, however, decreased by 33% from $9.2 billion in 2011 to $6.2 billion in 2012.
It attributed the growth in 2012 to a 39% spike in revenues from its GM Financial segment. The erosion of profits was due to a $26.4 billion goodwill impairment charge it paid in 2012.
Sales and Marketing
In 2012 the company spent $5.4 billion on advertising compared to the $5.2 billion it spent in 2011. The increase for 2012 was spent to support media campaigns for the launching of new vehicles and the introduction of the Chevrolet brand in Korea.
The carmaker gained momentum in improving its balance sheet in early 2011 by selling off its interest in Delphi Automotive for $3.8 billion. On its heels, GM shed its preferred shares in Ally Financial for $1 billion; the deal netted GM roughly $300 million.
A big focus for GM has been to raise the quality of its cars and trucks, a long source of criticism for the company. To this end, it has concentrated its resources on the Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC brands; HUMMER, Pontiac, and Saturn brands were discontinued. The smaller portfolio also forced a reduction in dealerships. GM's North American dealerships declined from about 6,450 in 2009 to more than 5,000 in 2012. Recently, top-selling models have included the Chevrolet Equinox and Cruze, the GMC Terrain, Buick LaCrosse, and Cadillac SRX.
GM's efforts to improve its products include developing energy-saving models, such as the Chevrolet Volt, an electric car powered by a lithium-ion battery, introduced in late 2010. The company introduced the Chevrolet Spark electric car in 2013. GM also formed a partnership with Segway to develop a two-wheeled, two-seat electric vehicle. GM also has about 20 FlexFuel cars available in the US.
In 2012 GM and Peugeot announced that they would form an alliance to share vehicle platforms, components and modules, and to establish a global purchasing joint venture. The companies hope the partnership will create annual savings of $2 billion within five years. As part of the deal, GM paid $400 million to $470 million (depending on market conditions) for a 7% stake in Peugeot.
The Treasury Department now owns about 16% of GM's stock. The remainder is held by a group of minority interests, including the Canadian federal government and a United Auto Workers retiree health care trust. In 2013 the US Treasury announced it plans to sell all its remaining shares of GM's stock by early 2014.