GM Earnings Rose Sharply in 2021

Basic Motors Co. GM 2.54% stated it plans to speed up the timetable for some electric-vehicle launches and can set up a 3rd manufacturing unit to construct plug-in vehicles, anticipating a pointy rise in demand for EVs.

The disclosure follows mounting questions from Wall Road about whether or not the auto maker is shifting rapidly sufficient to get a deliberate wave of electrical autos to market. Chief Government Mary Barra used the corporate’s fourth-quarter earnings name Tuesday to additional element GM’s plans.

“We additionally acknowledge we have to launch extra EVs quicker,” Ms. Barra instructed analysts. “That’s precisely what we’re going to do.”

Ms. Barra instructed analysts GM has focused gross sales of 400,000 electrical autos in North America this 12 months and subsequent. That may mark a pointy acceleration from 2021, when it offered fewer than 25,000 electrics within the U. S.—all Chevrolet Bolts, whose manufacturing has been paused for months to repair battery issues that had led to fires.

The CEO additionally stated the corporate is engaged on plans for a 3rd electric-truck plant, which might be a part of one which lately started constructing autos in suburban Detroit, and one other one deliberate close by that GM revealed final week.

Ford and GM lately launched their first electrical pickup vehicles. WSJ auto reporter Mike Colias breaks down the totally different methods the 2 legacy auto producers are pursuing to carry their EVs to market. Photograph Illustration: Alexander Hotz/WSJ

GM and different conventional automotive firms are upping their bets in electrical autos as they attempt to wrest the highlight from Tesla Inc. TSLA -0.58% and a slew of latest startups centered solely on battery-powered fashions.

Ms. Barra stated GM for now received’t re-establish its dividend, which was suspended in spring 2020, as a result of it desires to prioritize spending on electrical autos and different development bets.

GM additionally stated that Cruise, its majority-owned driverless-car startup, has begun providing free driverless taxi rides for the general public in San Francisco. That milestone triggers a further $1.35 billion in funding from investor SoftBank Imaginative and prescient Fund underneath phrases of its preliminary 2018 funding in Cruise.

After the shut of buying and selling Tuesday, GM reported a internet revenue of $10 billion for 2021. It stated full-year pretax revenue, which strips out nonrecurring gadgets, rose 47% to a document $14.Three billion.

Income rose 3.7% final 12 months to $127 billion, regardless of deep manufacturing cuts from the continuing computer-chip scarcity and a scarcity of latest stock on dealership heaps. Fourth-quarter revenue slid 39% in 2021 because the components disaster took its toll on manufacturing unit output later within the 12 months.

GM offered a sturdy outlook for 2022, projecting it might earn between $9.four billion and $10.eight billion in internet revenue this 12 months. The corporate stated its forecast assumes demand stays regular and there are not any vital financial or supply-chain challenges.

International auto makers managed to ship robust earnings final 12 months regardless of the worldwide semiconductor crunch that triggered them to curtail manufacturing. The snarled output resulted in scant choice at supplier heaps and hovering new-vehicle costs, padding auto makers’ revenue margins.

Nonetheless, the chip scarcity dealt GM a heftier blow than lots of its rivals, denting gross sales and permitting Toyota Motor Corp. for the primary time overtake it because the top-selling automotive firm within the U.S. by annual gross sales.

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Ford Motor Co. can also be anticipated to report robust earnings when it releases year-end outcomes Thursday. In October, it boosted its full-year steering to $10.5 billion to $11.5 billion, as the corporate took benefit of easing supply-chain issues and cranked up fourth-quarter manufacturing.

Plans to steer extra money into battery factories and different electric-vehicle constructing blocks propelled shares of each U.S. auto makers in 2021.

The sentiment on Wall Road has began to shift this 12 months as buyers pulled again on electric-vehicle startups Rivian Automotive Inc., its shares down 33% as of Tuesday’s shut, Lucid Group Inc., off 21%, and Fisker Inc., down 24%.

Tesla’s shares dropped sharply final week after it reported document earnings and Chief Government Elon Musk stated the corporate would improve automobile deliveries by greater than 50% however maintain off on new-model introductions. The inventory worth has since rebounded and was down 12% this 12 months as of Tuesday’s shut.

Now’s the time for conventional auto makers to make the case that they’re positioned to money in on the nascent electric-vehicle market, Morningstar analyst David Whiston stated.

“As an investor, you do have extra decisions to wager on electrical autos than Tesla and the EV startups,” Mr. Whiston stated. “Each GM and Ford will not be messing round.”

The U.S. auto makers every began the 12 months touting main investments to hurry electrical autos to market. GM final week stated it’ll spend about $6 billion on a brand new battery plant and manufacturing unit conversion in Michigan to make plug-in Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierras.

Ford shares surged early final month when the corporate disclosed plans to roughly double manufacturing plans for the F-150 Lightning electrical pickup, set to go on sale this spring.

GM stated it has almost 60,000 reservations for its GMC Hummer electrical pickup truck and SUV, and this spring plans to introduce a Cadillac electrical SUV, the Lyriq, beginning round $60,000. Ms. Barra stated the corporate has 110,000 reservations for the electrical Silverado.

In an interview, GM President Mark Reuss stated the corporate’s technique is to make use of the identical primary battery system, named Ultium, to supply extra fashions than rivals.

“Nobody else has a portfolio like we’ve got coming,” he stated final week. “In the event you assume the Silverado is taking too lengthy, go purchase a Hummer or go purchase a Lyriq.”

Write to Mike Colias at Mike.Colias@wsj.com

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