GENERAL Motors reported a weaker-than-expected fourth-quarter profit on Thursday, citing wider losses in Europe and lower vehicle prices in its core North American market.
The largest U.S. automaker also took an accounting change in the quarter intended to signal confidence that it will continue to be profitable in coming years.
GM posted a profit of 48 cents per share before one-time items, 3 cents shy of what analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S had expected.
Losses in Europe totaled $699m in the quarter and $1.8bn for all of 2012, more than doubling from 2011, reflecting the rapid deterioration of vehicle demand and economic conditions in the region. It was the 13th straight year of losses in Europe.
Chief Financial Officer Dan Ammann said GM still sees industry sales in Europe declining in 2013 and is "not betting on" a pickup later in the year.
During the fourth quarter, prices also fell in North America, GM's most profitable region, as the company offered incentives to cut through its inventory of trucks on dealer lots.
"The (decline in price) is essentially setting up to work through some of the inventory of some of the products that are getting replaced in the marketplace," Ammann told reporters.
Last year was GM's second full year as a public company since its initial public offering in the autumn of 2010, which followed the bankruptcy restructuring and $50bn U.S.-taxpayer bailout of the prior year.
Net income in the fourth quarter rose to $892m, or 54 cents a share, from $472m or 28 cents a share, a year earlier.