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GM CEO says chip shortage could hit profits by US$2 billion

GM CEO says chip shortage could hit profits by US$2 billion

The GM logo is seen in Warren, Michigan, U.S. on October 26, 2015. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook/File Photo

DETROIT: General Motors Co on Wednesday said the global semiconductor chip shortage could shave up to US$2 billion from 2021 profit, but the U.S, automaker's highly profitable big pickups and SUVs won't suffer any production cuts.

After reporting a fourth-quarter profit of US$2.8 billion, GM shares were down 2.4per cent in early trading.

Chief Executive Mary Barra, in a Tuesday media briefing, said GM "won't lose any production" of its high-profit full-size pickup trucks and SUVs, although the supply of computer chips "is still a bit fluid."

GM expects the chip shortage to trim US$1.5 billion to US$2 billion from its 2021 operating profit, or up to about 90 cents a share. Including that hit, it forecast a range of US$10 billion to US$11 billion, or US$4.50 to US$5.25 a share. Analysts had expected US$5.89 according to Refinitiv data, but that did not account for the impact of the chip shortage and analysts saw the underlying forecast as strong.

"While some may focus on a guidance, which is optically soft versus consensus due to semi shortage impact, we ultimately believe investors should look through it," Credit Suisse analyst Dan Levy said in a research note.

The global chip shortage also will have a short-term impact on production and cash flow, the Detroit company said.

However, she added, "we're going to be able to meet the production schedules" for the year. GM officials have repeatedly stressed they will work to protect production of its highest profit vehicles.

U.S. rival Ford Motor Co previously said it lost some production of its high-profit, top-selling F-150 pickup truck.

On Tuesday, GM extended production cuts at three North American plants and said it would partially build and later finish assembling vehicles at two other factories due to the chip shortage.

Asked whether GM would invest in a chipmaker to secure supplies, Barra said the automaker is always looking at what to integrate into its operations. She added, however, that taking a stake in a semiconductor company was a longer-term solution the company would evaluate.

GM said it expects to accelerate spending on electric and autonomous vehicles in 2021. Projected capital expenditures this year are US$9 billion to US$10 billion, including more than US$7 billion for EVs and AVs. The 2021 capital spending target includes money was deferred from last year, Barra said.

Investors and Wall Street have increasingly focused more heavily on GM's strategy to roll out electric vehicles, rather than quarterly results, and the stock has responded to the company's series of announcements around increased and accelerated EV spending.

GM said it earned US$2.8 billion, or US$1.93 a share, in the fourth quarter, compared with a loss of US$194 million, or 16 cents a share, in the prior year.

GM said its 2020 operating margin was 7.9 percent, including 9.4 percent in North America.

The company ended the year with US$22.3 billion in cash and US$40.5 billion in total liquidity, including untapped credit lines.

(Reporting by Ben Klayman and Paul Lienert in Detroit; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

Source: Reuters

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