GM posts record loss after $39 billion charge

DETROIT (Reuters) - General Motors Corp on Wednesday posted a record loss for the third quarter, reflecting a $39-billion charge related to unclaimed tax credits and a loss at its former finance subsidiary GMAC.

General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner in a file photo. General Motors said on Tuesday it would book a $39 billion non-cash charge in the third quarter, reflecting the risk of a slower turnaround that could keep it from claiming expected future tax credits in key markets. REUTERS/Alex Grimm

The largest U.S. automaker posted a net loss of $39 billion, or $68.85 per share, compared with a loss of $147 million, or 26 cents per share a year earlier.

Total revenue fell to $43.8 billion from $48.9 billion a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, GM reported a net loss of $1.6 billion, or $2.80 per share.

GM’s shares fell to $33.50 in premarket trading, down 7 percent from Tuesday’s close on the New York Stock Exchange.

In advance of the quarterly results, GM had said it would book a $39 billion noncash charge for the quarter.

The automaker said that record one-time charge against deferred tax assets was triggered by its cumulative losses over three years and the risk of both weaker auto sales and GMAC results in coming quarters.

GM’s results, even excluding the massive one-time charge, were weaker than analysts had forecast.

Wall Street analysts, on average, had forecast an adjusted quarterly loss of 36 cents per share, according to Reuters Estimates.

That shortfall partly reflected a loss at finance company and former GM subsidiary GMAC.

GMAC, in which GM retains 49-percent stake, posted a $1.6 billion third-quarter loss last week triggered by a fourth consecutive quarter of losses at its Residential Capital LLC unit, the second-largest independent U.S. mortgage lender.

GM said its auto operations improved in the third quarter. On a global basis, the company posted net income of $122 million from continuing operations in the quarter, compared with a loss of $455 million on the same basis a year earlier.

Those results excluded Allison Transmission, a GM unit the automaker spun off in August. GM realized a one-time gain of $5.4 billion from that sale in its third-quarter results.