The stock is now changing hands for less than the IPO price, having fallen nearly 24% during 2014.
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Dan Ammann, GM's president, said in an interview Friday that two things must happen for the shares to rise in value.
One factor behind the stock's stagnancy has been "the medium-term uncertainty around recalls," he said in an interview in Birmingham, Mich. "As you know, investors dislike uncertainty, so as it dissipates that will be a positive."
Ammann also suggested the company must become more consistent with its results.
"More fundamentally, the issue is us putting up the results, quarter in and quarter out," Amman said. "And as we do that, our stock price will follow that. We need to demonstrate the results."
He said that GM has undertaken a thorough review and overhaul of manufacturing, safety and related processes, following a massive recall of Chevrolet Cobalt and other GM models due to ignition-switch flaws early this year. The review has triggered even more recalls, not all related to ignitions. More recent recalls involve fewer vehicles, however, and, as of late, they've been tapering off.
"We're able to catch things earlier," said Ammann.
A GM representative provided a summary of recalled vehicles in North America for 2014. GM so far has had 80 recalls covering 30.4 million vehicles. The largest was in June, covering 6.5 million cars to correct unintended key rotation. One of the smallest came to light this week, a recall of 2,432 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon midsize pickup trucks to correct a flaw in the wiring of airbags. (See the next page for a chart listing all the 2014 North American recalls.)
At a briefing in early October to outline and review its corporate strategy for analysts, GM said it was targeting a margin for earnings before interest and taxes of 10% for its North American business by mid-2016. It expects to return to profitability in Europe by that year after more than a decade of losses. GM laid out other goals, including its intention to return excess cash to shareholders as dividends.
Ammann noted two other strategic initiatives that, if successful, could influence GM's financials. One is a doubling of production capacity in Mexico. Another is a broad switch to relying more heavily on true consumer demand to determine vehicle production.
In the past GM often has built more cars than justified purely by demand, creating the need for price reductions to clear inventory. "We intend to become more consumer focused," he said.
GM's Cadillac luxury franchise is the first of the vehicle lines to feel the effects of the new production philosophy. About 450 workers will be laid off at a plant in Lansing, Mich., partly to reduce production capacity of Cadillac ATS and CTS models in response to bloated inventories of the cars on dealer lots.
"All of us on the top leadership team" are calling consumers and dealers in order to gain more understanding and sharper focus on what they want from GM, he said.