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Scott Jagow: The last year or so, General Motors has been looking pretty good. Like maybe a nice '63 Corvette. GM's been making a profit, turning things around.

But this morning, we got the numbers for the last three months. Now, GM looks more like a '71 Chevy Vega in a demolition derby. The company lost $39 billion -- the worst quarter in GM history. So what the heck happened? Amy Scott has more.


Amy Scott: GM chalked up most of its loss to accounting. The company wrote down the value of future tax benefits because it doesn't expect to make enough money to take advantage of those benefits.

The automaker also suffered from troubles in the subprime mortgage market. Its former financing arm, GMAC, lost more than $1.5 billion. GM still owns almost half the company. Still, GM earned $122 million from its worldwide operations.

But analyst Eric Merkle with IRN wasn't impressed:

Eric Merkle: That's a decent performance. It's respectable. One of the things that concerns me, though, is that the North American operations still aren't profitable. They lost $247 million.

Merkle's outlook for GM isn't bright. He says savings from a new labor contract with the United Auto Workers won't kick in for several years. And he fears Americans will put off buying new vehicles until the economy revs up.

In New York, I'm Amy Scott for Marketplace.

Follow Amy Scott at @amyreports