General Motors

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It's not your dad's General Motors ( GM) anymore. GM came out of bankruptcy cutting a leaner profile -- and a balance sheet that's flush with cash. The firm currently sports $24.6 billion in net cash after all of its debt is accounted for, an amount that offsets half of the firm's $44 billion market capitalization. GM is one of the biggest automakers in the world, with brands Chevrolet, GMC, Cadillac and Buick surviving bankruptcy.

Auto sales have been increasing in the last couple of years, and GM has been cashing in. The firm has already booked record annual profits, just a couple of years after exiting bankruptcy, and its leaning out has everything to do with that.

To be clear, you can't just shave GM's $24.6 billion in cash off the top. The firm also supports an underfunded pension that has multi-billion-dollar annual contribution requirements. That said, worker retirement costs are a whole lot more tenable now than they were just a few years ago, and the firm has the wherewithal to support those payouts for the foreseeable future.

Emerging markets present a big growth opportunity for GM. China in particular is a huge market for GM, with the firm selling a record 2.8 billion vehicles in the People's Republic last year. A burgeoning middle class population in emerging market nations could quickly grow the number of car buyers in markets like China, Brazil, and India even in spite of local competition in those countries. GM posts its next earnings call on Valentine's Day.

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