DETROIT—General Motors earned $1 billion in the first quarter as a strong performance in North America helped it overcome troubles in Europe.
Despite problems, GM was able to post its sixth straight quarterly profit since emerging from bankruptcy and having its stock return to publicly traded markets in November 2010.
Revenue rose four per cent to $37.8 billion.
North America clearly is pulling the company along. GM earned a combined $1.7 billion before taxes in the U.S., Mexico and Canada. Sales rose by 19,000 vehicles to 703,000, and the company got higher prices for cars and trucks.
The big profit in North America offset Europe, where GM’s operations lost $256 million before taxes. It also overcame a $590-million charge due to a change in Europe’s pension values.
GM’s struggles in Europe mirror the region’s overall economy and other automakers, including Ford Motor Co., also are losing money there.
Economists think the 17 countries that use the euro are already in a recession. Output is expected to have shrunk slightly in the first quarter after a 0.3 per cent decline in the final three months of 2011. Two quarters of falling output is a common definition of recession.
Besides North America, there were other bright spots for GM. The carmaker earned $83 million in South America, helped by new models for the region. The company earned $529 million in Asia.