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General Motors

(GM) - Get Report

reported a $510 million fourth-quarter profit, despite losses in Europe, and said current quarter results would be strong.

With items including a 21-cent-per-share reduction due to a loss on the purchase of U.S. Treasury preferred shares, the automaker said it earned $510 million, or 31 cents a share. Excluding items, earnings were 52 cents a share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had estimated 46 cents. Revenue was $36.9 billion; analysts had estimated revenue of $34.1 billion.

Also, GM said that it had allayed concerns regarding material weakness in its financial reporting process, the result of remediation actions it had put in place. The material weakness no longer exists, the company said.

"Our focus for 2011 is to build on our progress and continue to generate momentum in the marketplace," said Chief Financial Officer Chris Liddell, in a prepared statement. "We expect our first quarter will be a strong start."

In premarket activity shortly after the earnings release, shares were trading at $34.18, down from the Wednesday close of $34.59.

During the quarter, earnings before interest and tax totaled $1 billion, including earnings before interest and taxes of $800 million from GM North America, which produced a loss of $3.4 billion in the same quarter a year earlier. GM Europe had a loss before interest and taxes of $600 million, narrower than a loss of $800 million a year earlier. GM's international operations had EBIT of $300 million, down from $400 million a year earlier.

GM reported a loss of $1.7 billion in automotive net cash flow from operating activities, reflecting a $4 billion cash contribution for U.S. pension plans. Also, the company said it would pay profit sharing averaging $4,300 to 45,000 hourly employees and $3,200 to GM Components Holdings employees.

For the full year, GM reported net income of $4.7 billion on revenue of $135.6 billion. "Last year was one of foundation building," said CEO Dan Akerson. "Particularly pleasing was that we demonstrated GM's ability to achieve sustainable profitability near the bottom of the U.S. industry cycle, with four consecutive profitable quarters."

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte


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Ted Reed