GM Should Listen to Marchionne’s Pitch

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ CEO Sergio Marchionne’s quest to merge his company with General Motors continues to garner attention and draw suggestions that GM might be shooting itself in the foot by ignoring the offer to talk. Two respected sources weighed in on the drama, most notably CNBC anchor and ex-hedge fund manager Jim Cramer who has lost confidence in GM management and dumped his shares of the company.

In a piece, Cramer was rightfully complimentary of Marchionne’s talents. Marchionne is a savvy leader who took advantage of the Obama Administration’s desperation, lack of vision and poor negotiating skills during the 2009 auto bailout process when the Italian automaker was given a free stake in a sinking Chrysler corporation at the low point of the auto sales cycle. Cramer was also right on point with his criticism of GM CEO Mary Barra. From the piece:

As for Cramer, he said

What was the Point of GM Share Buyback?

General Motors’ shares have taken a hit this week with the catalyst for the latest downturn being news out of China. Continued weakness in China (including weakening car sales) has led the country to devalue its currency in an attempt to bolster its economy at the expense of its trading partners. This latest news confirms my views that GM’s China gamble puts the company and its shareholders at increased risk. The horrible performance of GM’s stock over the past few months also brings into question the rationale for the much-hyped share buyback that was instigated by ex-Obama Auto Task Force member, Harry Wilson, in photo.

Mr. Wilson was one of the primary architects of the auto bailouts which gave about $30 billion of American taxpayer money (along with approximately $10 billion from Canada) to GM to guide them through their Obama-orchestrated bankruptcy process in 2009. Less than six years later, Wilson …

Will the UAW Bury GM in Upcoming Negotiations?

Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal reported that the United Auto Workers union (UAW) was drawing up contingency plans to strike if upcoming negotiations with General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles do not satisfy UAW officials. The UAW is leveraging the good timing of the negotiations, which are occurring at the same time as the auto industry’s cyclical top.

Will history repeat itself with GM eventually driven to a second bankruptcy if the UAW is successful in raising labor costs at the automaker? The stage seems to be set for the UAW to further put unionized automakers at a disadvantage to automakers with lower labor costs in a very competitive industry. The current US hourly labor cost at GM is already one of the highest in the industry at $58 per hour. That compares to the US wages at Toyota and Volkswagen of $48 and $38 per hour, …

GM Misses Earnings – Burns over $3 Billion in First Quarter

It appears that General Motors is trying to remedy one of the latest criticisms against them. That criticism is that the company has way too large a “cash hoard” and most recently came from former Obama Auto Task Force member turned shareholder activist, Harry Wilson. Well Harry, be at ease; GM has managed to reduce that so-called hoard by over $3 billion in just three months as first quarter earnings flopped on Wall Street.

An analysis of GM’s earnings data release shows that cash and cash equivalents plunged from $19 billion to $15.8 billion. Marketable securities’ value also fell from $9.2 billion to $8.4 billion. Unfortunately for GM optimists who might want to point to GM’s share buy-back as the reason for the cash burn, it turns out that GM only used $400 million in cash during the quarter to repurchase 10 million shares. Despite that buyback, the number …

Did GM Bailout Cost Lives?

The death toll for General Motors’ faulty ignition switch victims continues to rise with the last reported number being 42. There has been speculation that the death count is significantly higher, as safety advocate Clarence Ditlow has written to GM to request an expansion of efforts to uncover victims of accidents resulting from defective GM vehicles.

GM has known about the ignition switch defect for years and failed to recall the deadly vehicles for almost five years after the Obama Administration took over the company in June of 2009. President Obama’s Auto Task Force guided the company through a manipulated bankruptcy process that favored political allies like the UAW over other creditors as new management and board members were appointed by the Administration. We now must question the perceived “success” of the GM bailout and ask if a conventional bankruptcy process could have saved some of the lives that were …

GM Attempted Ludicrous ‘Fix’ for Defective Ignitions in 2005

GM keysGeneral Motors’ CEO, Mary Barra, testified this week at government hearings on the deadly recall delay that contributed to at least 13 deaths of motorists driving GM vehicles with defective ignition switches. During that testimony Ms. Barra discussed one of GM’s ridiculous early “solutions” for problems with ignitions turning to the off position as vehicles were being driven. GM engineers designed an insert to be placed in the keys’ holes in an attempt to limit how much key chains dangled. This “fix” saved the company a few dollars in labor costs that would have been charged if they recalled the vehicles to replace the defective ignitions.

Ms. Barra did not seem to think that this solution was as ludicrous as I do and the government investigative team did not press the issue. Maybe future hearings will question why such an absurd solution was offered.

NBC News reported that GM engineers …

GM Response to Recall Delay Victims Anything BUT Compassionate

Barra defines compassion as, “a feeling of wanting to help someone who is sick, hungry, in trouble, etc.” A Google search teaming the name Mary Barra with “compassionate” pulls up a host of articles fawning over General Motors’ new CEO’s handling of the company’s botched recalls which seem to have cost at least 12 American lives. Contrary to the media’s belief that GM is a compassionate entity working in the best interests of accident victims, the facts show that the response to defects in GM vehicles and subsequent recall delays has been anything BUT compassionate.

The NY Times continued its excellent investigative reporting on the GM recall delay story with an article describing how GM reacted to victims who tried to go up against the corporate giant after lives were lost in accidents involving defective GM vehicles. From that piece:

It was nearly five years ago that any doubts were

Why Isn’t GM Recalling Saturn Ions With Steering Loss?

It appears that General Motors and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have still not done everything they can to assure the safety of American motorists regarding GM vehicles that have a history of dangerous defects.

The latest defect that I have uncovered relates to a loss of power steering in Saturn Ions for the model years 2004 to 2007. The same vehicles were recalled for a separate, unrelated ignition switch problem, along with the Chevrolet Cobalt and the Pontiac G5. The delay in the ignition switch recall has been blamed for the deaths of at least 12 Americans. Unfortunately, GM is equally slow in addressing the steering loss problem.

Back in December of 2010, NHTSA opened an investigation of Saturn Ions for model years 2004 through 2007. According to NHTSA’s website, the investigation was based on “846 complaints and GM identified 3,489 reports alleging sudden loss of …

GM’s Debt Rises as Earnings Disappoint; Warns on First Quarter

GMGeneral Motors announced disappointing earnings results today and issued a warning that first quarter results will underwhelm as well. The reasons behind the earnings’ miss are surely going to be explained away by pundits and proponents of the company still known as Government Motors to many. Sorting through the smoke and mirrors can lead to some important and simple explanations as to what is going on at GM.

Before looking at the reasons why GM has drastically underperformed the broader markets since the Obama-orchestrated bankruptcy process of 2009, let’s take a look at one of the most critical takeaways from the latest earnings announcement. GM is now approaching pre-bankruptcy debt levels with over $36 billion in short and long term debt. The company issued $28 billion of new debt with $20.2 billion of that going to pay down existing debt.

What’s that you say? You thought GM had a …

Chevy Malibu Problems Epitomize GM’s Struggle

Government MotorsGeneral Motors is now approaching its fifth year of existence since emerging as a new entity as a result of the 2009 auto bailouts which saw taxpayers fund a bankruptcy process to the tune of $50 billion. Much has been debated about the “success” of GM since the controversial government-orchestrated restructuring. While GM management recently announced a dividend in an attempt to ensure investors of financial stability, a more telling indicator of the likelihood of future profitability may be found through an analysis of how competitive the company’s vehicles are.

Let’s face it; it should not be that hard for a corporation to look good to Wall Street after receiving an influx of $50 billion to its balance sheet along with the removal of creditor liabilities. But just how well are the company’s cars selling and what is the prognosis for longer-term sustainability? A closer look at the best-selling, mid-size …

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