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GM issues profit warning

General Motors has issued a profit warning due to ‘tough competition’ and ‘low US sales’.

In January, GM said net profits had sunk 37% to $630m (£327.2m) in the last quarter of 2004, from $1bn (£519m) a year earlier.

The fall also prompted credit rating agency Standard & Poor's to downgrade its outlook for GM - which pushed the world's biggest carmaker closer to junk status.

GM added that it expected a negative cash flow of $2bn (£1.03bn) for the year - mainly due to a slump in its U.S business - even before it pays out $2bn to resolve its dispute with Fiat.

The company is cutting 12,000 jobs across the continent in an effort to boost profitability.

"Clearly we have significant challenges in the US," says GM chairman and chief executive Rick Wagoner.

"The U.S is our biggest business, and the key driver of automotive earnings and cash flow. So it's important we get this business right," he added.

Despite the launch of several new models over the past year, GM said it was cutting production plans by 70,000 vehicles in the US in the face of growing stockpiles.

Earlier this month the company said it would be cutting production in the U.S by 3%, after announcing sales had fallen 12.7% in February compared to a year earlier.


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