continue to sit near a six-month high after reassuring -- if sketchy -- words from the company's chief executive.
The stock ended at $34.45 Tuesday, up 40 cents, its best close since Aug. 15 and a level that is roughly in line with its price for the last two months.
Rick Wagoner told an analyst conference in Detroit that aspects of the company's turnaround plan for North America are progressing, including new branding initiatives and design processes. Wagoner would not, however, provide earnings guidance for 2005 after the automaker announced in March that existing estimates were too high.
Analysts expect the company to lose $2.40 a share, on average, in 2005, before swinging to a profit of $1.61 a share in 2006, according to Thomson First Call. GM withdrew 2005 profit guidance of $4 to $5 a share in March, citing rising medical costs and crushing competition in the North American vehicle market.
Regarding 2006, Wagoner predicted a "tough, challenging" market but said profitability should improve. A report earlier this week suggested that GM is losing more than $1,200 on every vehicle it sells in North America this year, reflecting heavy discounting.
Wagoner described existing health care costs as "not sustainable" but refused to comment on the status of ongoing negotiations with the United Auto Workers, whose contract expires in two years.
Outside of North America, GM said, results will meet or surpass existing estimates.