Revenue for the year increased 11 percent to $150.3 billion and earnings before interest and tax was $8.3 billion compared with $7 billion in 2010
Overall, GM's 2011 profit rose from last year's $4.7 billion and broke the previous record annual profit of $6.7 billion in 1997.
The full-year results were hampered by Opel, its European unit, which lost $747 million -- a $1.3-billion improvement but still makes it the 12th straight annual loss in a market struggling with overcapacity and raising more questions about the wisdom of reversing the decision to sell Opel in 2009.
"We grew share around the world," Dan Ammann, GM's chief financial officer, told reporters Thursday morning.
"Clearly, we have work to do in Europe and South America," he said.
Fourth-quarter net income of $472 million was flat from a year ago, but the profit of 39 cents per share was below the 41-43-cent range analysts expected.
But the strength of North American operations means GM's profit-sharing payment is the largest since 1983 when payments began.
The payout formula was changed to become simpler and more transparent as part of last fall's contract negotiations with the United Auto Workers union.
The typical Ford employee is eligible for $6,200 based on the $6.2 billion in operating profit in North America in 2011.
Chrysler workers are eligible for $1,500. The Auburn Hills, Mich., automaker had an operating profit of $1.97 billion and about 85 percent was derived from North America.
GM's payment has only exceeded the amounts at both Ford and Chrysler twice since 1983. The previous record GM payout was last year's average of more than $4,000 each but most years the amount was less than $1,000 and substantially below the other Detroit automakers.
GM's 26,000 salaried workers learned Wednesday that senior workers are being shifted to an exclusively 401(k)-type pension and while some can expect larger bonuses, that is not the case across the board. Salaried workers' compensation is based on global performance metrics.
Ford recently told its 20,000 salaried employees in the U.S. and Canada they will receive bonuses as well as merit raises for the first time since 2008.
Globally, GM's pension obligations in its plans topped $128 billion at the end of 2010. The plans are underfunded by $24.5 billion, from $22.4 billion a year ago. The U.S. pension ended the year underfunded by $13.3 billion from $11.5 billion a year ago.
Losses in Europe for the quarter were $562 million.
"Clearly the industry has too much capacity," Ammann said, "there's no debate about that."
"We are working on the pieces of the business we can control," he said. "We are in discussions with our stakeholders," he said, but GM is not providing guidance at this time about planned moves to cut its own capacity.
Ammann described GM's product portfolio in Europe as "the best it's been in years."
South America lost $225 million. GM has an aging product lineup and workforce that needs trimming but GM plans to launch nine new models this year.
(c)2012 the Detroit Free Press
Visit the Detroit Free Press at www.freep.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services
MORE HBJ HEADLINES
Hydrogen-fueled Toyota Mirai voted Northwest Green Vehicle of the Year Will your boss match Netflix’s yearlong paid leave? Retailers look to stretch out profits from yoga pants You still use a landline? FCC voting on new phone rules Who are the stock market heavyweights? Automakers trying to prevent hackers from commandeering cars
Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.