The stock closed 7.05% higher to $37.18 a share Friday.
General Motors said it expects adjusted earnings in 2019 to be between $6.50 and $7 a share. Adjusted free cash flow is expected to be between $4.6 billion and $6 billion, the automaker said.
In the shorter term, GM said 2018 EPS will be higher than initially forecast in its third-quarter earnings report. The company had forecast profit of between $5.80 and $6.20 a share.
"We are focused on strengthening our cash generation and creating efficiencies that will position us to take advantage of opportunities through the cycle," said Chief Financial Officer Dhivya Suryadevara.
Simply put, GM will invest in more profitable products and segments of the auto market. Specifically, the company is launching new Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra light-duty full-size pickups. Those types of vehicles have contributed to market share growth for GM in every month since August, which is partly a result of higher average selling prices on those vehicles compared to those of competitors.
As for its China business, GM said it has the agility to respond to changing market dynamics, as it will launch 20 "refreshed" products, including compact cars and crossovers. While GM has been impacted by high tariffs when bringing cars into China from the U.S., its business located in China isn't subject to tariffs.
Analysts at CFRA raised their 2019 earnings-per-share estimates for GM by 40 cents to $6.60 as a result of GM's announcement. Their price target of $40, just over 8% above the stock's current level, remained. The analysts remained tepid on GM's China outlook.
"While we considered GM's 2019 guidance positively, we view some of its underlying assumptions as overly optimistic, namely flat China auto sales in 2019 (we estimate a 4.0% drop)," analysts wrote in a note out Friday afternoon. China's economy seems to be slowing down, and demand for vehicles could drop enough that GM's guidance for flat sales year-over-year in China would be overly bullish.
Other auto stocks were rising following GM's positive announcement. Ford Motor Co. (F - Get Report) was rising 1.61% to $8.81, while Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCAU - Get Report) gained 2.19% to $16.36. Auto investors seem to be responding to GM's guidance announcement, so other stocks in the group are coming up. "I think that's a big part of it," chief market strategist for TD Ameritrade JJ Kinahan told TheStreet.
Perhaps more importantly, "It took them all a while to figure out the cost cutting," Kinahan said, referring to layoffs GM and Ford have had to move forward with, as demand for vehicles in some geographies slips. Now, he said, those auto makers have made their businesses more efficient, which investors like.