NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- General Motors ( GM) posted a 14% drop in net income in the first quarter, yet still reported stronger-than-expected quarterly earnings on Thursday. GM earned $865 million, or 58 cents a share, down from $1 billion, or 60 cents a share, in the same period last year. Excluding items, GM earned 67 cents a share, beating analysts' forecast for earnings of 54 cents, according to Thomson Reuters. Weaker volume and reduced vehicle prices led to the drop in net income. GM's North American unit reported better-than-expected operating profit of $1.41 billion, surpassing estimates of $1.21 billion. The company's earnings in North America are still down 12.5% from a year ago on reduced shipments of pickup trucks ahead of GM's launch of the redesigned Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra. GM's $175 million loss in Europe was also narrower than the $469 million loss analysts expected, according to FactSet StreetAccount. The Silverado and Sierra are among the company's most profitable vehicles. They are expected to go on sale in a few weeks. Royal Dutch Shell Chief Executive Peter Voser is stepping down in an unexpected move. Voser will retire from the company in the first half of 2014. He said he made the decision as he felt it was time for a "change in my lifestyle." Shell said it will consider both internal and external candidates to replace Voser. Shares of Shell have climbed nearly 50% since Voser became CEO in July 2009. The news comes as Shell reported better-than-expected first-quarter profit that rose 3% from a year ago to $7.5 billion. The results were driven by improved profit margins in the company's refining and marketing unit. "These results were underpinned by Shell's growth projects, an improvement in downstream profitability, and were delivered despite a difficult security environment in Nigeria," Voser said. Looking ahead, Voser said there continues to be "significant" energy price volatility in the industry due to economic and political challenges. Ford ( F) is planning to invest $1.1 billion on plant expansion and also create thousands of new jobs.