GM Revises First Quarter to Profit

A change in accounting for its health care settlement moves the automaker into the black.
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General Motors

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revised its first-quarter results to reflect a change in its accounting for a retiree health care settlement, resulting in a $445 million profit for the period.

The world's largest automaker, which has been bleeding red ink as its North American business struggles, last month reported a loss of $323 million, or 57 cents a share, for the first quarter. The company said Monday that the drastically revised number, which on a per-share basis now totals 78 cents, comes after talks with the Securities and Exchange Commission over the proper accounting treatment for the health care settlement.

Under the agreement, GM will make $1 billion contributions to an employee trust in each of 2006, 2007 and 2011. In its

original first-quarter earnings report, GM recorded a $681 million after-tax charge related to the first contribution.

The company said it now plans to recognize the impact of the contributions over seven years, beginning in the third quarter of this year when the health care changes take effect.

GM also made changes that boosted earnings at General Motors Acceptance Corp., reflecting the finalization of the tax effect of the March sale of GMAC Commercial Mortgage.

On an adjusted basis, which excludes special items, GM now puts its profit at $184 million, or 32 cents a share, compared with its preliminary loss of $529 million, or 94 cents a share. In last year's first quarter, GM recorded a loss of $1.3 billion, or $2.22 a share.

The accounting changes narrowed the quarterly loss at GM North America to $462 million from the earlier reported $946 million. As a whole, GM's automotive operations lost $237 million in the quarter, compared with the preliminary report of $721 million. GMAC's profit rose to $637 million from the $605 million reported.

GM said it plans to file its quarterly report with the finalized numbers later this week.