Despite posting a slight slip in net earnings, General Motors reported a first-quarter performance that exceeded analysts’ expectations and prompted the world’s biggest auto firm to raise its output projections.

GM’s net income for the quarter totalled $228 million (€257m; £158m), a 3.8% drop from the $237m in Q1 2001. Revenues stood at $46.3 billion, up from $42.6bn the year before.

The results include a $156.4m loss at its Hughes Electronics satellite-TV division [WAMN: 16-Apr-02] and a $407m restructuring charge at its ailing European arm. Excluding Hughes and special items, earnings rocketed from $321m twelve months ago to $791m.

Driving this growth were the group’s North American operations, where income jumped from $120m last year to $625m. However, GM Europe – which is expected to break even next year – posted a loss of $125m for the quarter, wider than the $86m in Q1 2001.

The figures prompted GM to raise its North American production estimates for 2002 from 5.1m to 5.4m, also to increase projected 2002 sales for the industry as a whole from 15.7m vehicles (excluding commercial trucks) to 16.2m.

Declared GM chief financial officer John M Devine: “We think overall we're going to have a very good year”.

Data sourced from: New York Times; General Motors; additional content by WARC staff