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General Motors turns profit in 2012 despite taking loss in Europe

Feb. 15, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

DETROIT -- General Motors has strung together a tidy three-year run of profits by making big dollars in its backyard.

Now the question is whether its U.S. operations can keep making enough to carry the company and cover widening losses in Europe.

General Motors Co. on Thursday posted a profit of $4.9 billion for 2012, down 36 percent from a year earlier, when it made $7.6 billion. Its net income fell because of European losses and a truckload of one-time accounting gains and losses in both years. Last year's pretax profit, which excludes the one-time items, still dropped, but only by 5 percent to $7.9 billion.

Revenue for the year rose 1 percent to $152.3 billion.

The company's money machine, North America, made $6.9 billion before taxes for the year. But GM lost almost $1.8 billion in Europe, where it has too many factories and workers as sales slow in a faltering economy.

The European losses widened by more than $1 billion. They also wiped out the combined $1 billion made by GM's auto loan and South American businesses, plus part of the $2.2 billion made by International Operations including China. GM expects the European market to weaken further this year, which could further stress its bottom line.

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