General Motors posted its best operating results in 11 years in the first quarter, lifted by a jump in sales and strong pricing.
With rivals Ford Motor and Chrysler Group also posting profits in the first quarter, this the first time since 2004 that all of Detroit's Big 3 automakers have been in the black at the same time.
It is a stunning turnaround for the industry, following federal bailouts and bankruptcy reorganizations at GM and Chrysler a mere two years ago.
GM earned $3.2 billion in the quarter, up from $865 million a year ago. But roughly half of this quarter's profit came from a one-time gain from sales of the company's interests in Delphi Automotive and Ally Financial's preferred stock.
Excluding that gain, the company still made $1.7 billion, or 95 cents a share, topping the forecast of 91 cents a share from analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters. It was also GM's biggest profit since earning $1.8 billion in the second quarter of 2000.
GM sold 2.2 million vehicles globally, helping to lift revenue 15% to $36.2 billion, about $600 million more than analysts were expecting.
And GM gave a strong outlook for the rest of the year, saying that results from its core North American unit will improve for the rest of the year as better pricing and lower fixed costs should more than offset commodity price increases and any shift by consumers to less expensive, more fuel efficient cars.
Despite the strong results and guidance, shares of GM were down less than 1% pre-market. The stock had run-up sharply in recent days on hopes that GM would top forecasts by an even greater amount.
The company improved income from North America and trimmed losses in Europe. It said it expects its European operations to finally break even this year after years of losses. But profits fell in its South American unit as well as its International Operations unit, which includes operations elsewhere around the globe.
Still, the company reported sales gains in every region, as it picked up market share everywhere except South America during the period.
"GM has great potential to deliver profitable growth around the world as the recovery continues," said Chief Financial Officer Dan Ammann in the earnings statement.