It's time, once again, to clarify a major misrepresentation by General Motors and the media. That is the implication that the recently announced move to modify a portion of non-union pensions will result in an improvement of $26 billion to GM's pension shortfall. GM shares are down about 5% since the announcement, bringing into question the accuracy of the rosy projections.
The president of the GM Retirees Association, Jim Shepherd, sent a scathing letter last week to GM CEO, Dan Akerson. The letter was in response to General Motors' decision to modify pension plans for non-union retirees. Mr. Shepherd stated that the non-union retirees wanted to express their "absolute consternation and disgust" and described the move by GM as not being only unfair but, "it is sheer irresponsibility and greed."
I recently wrote about a boycott of General Motors' products that was contributing to the company losing market share. The Heritage Foundation now has come out with a report that analyzes the wealth redistribution which occurred during the Obama Administration orchestrated GM bankruptcy process. This redistribution saw money taken from US taxpayers and GM bondholders and given to the politically powerful UAW. The unethical behavior at Government Motors, which has been occurring both during and since the bankruptcy process, gives reason enough to those paying attention to eliminate GM vehicles from the many quality choices offered to new car shoppers.
General Motors CEO, Dan Akerson, discussed some of the issues plaguing GM's share price in today's Wall Street Journal. Akerson laments a bloated bureaucracy at Government Motors that has not greatly improved since the company's 2009 bankruptcy process. Despite admitting that the bankruptcy was rushed through without proper planning, the Obama-appointed Akerson did not mention the continued UAW overhangs at the company.
The new General Motors will be turning three years old in early July. GM's rocky childhood has given evidence to what disadvantage small investors are at when it comes to making educated equity investment choices. Let's look at some of the lessons to be learned from one of history's largest busted IPOs (along with the recent Facebook debacle) and consider the current underreported risk factors.
CBC News reports that an Ontario General Motors' plant where Chevy Impalas and Equinoxes were built will be closed down, costing Canadians around 2,000 jobs. GM reportedly plans to partially move production of the Impala to its Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant in Michigan. You may remember the Hamtramck site from the Chevy Volt commercial which trumpeted the building of Volts there. It now seems that low demand for the Volt has led to the plant having enough time to build other, conventionally-powered vehicles. While the Volt may have been the car GM "had to build," it appears that consumers would "prefer" them to build cars like the Impala.
General Motors reported that Chevy Volt sales for May came in at a paltry 1,680. To put this in perspective, GM sold 29,579 Chevy Malibus during the month. The funny thing is, I do not recall seeing as many TV ads for the Malibu as I have for the Volt. While GM's ad strategy (which has seen the company discontinuing advertising on Facebook and the Super Bowl) has received much attention, auto journalists and analysts do not seem to want to question the reason why GM is spending such a disproportionate amount of money advertising a vehicle that is losing money for the company and its shareholders.
The Department of Transportation and NHTSA have announced that a "technical symposium" will be held on May 18th "to discuss safety considerations for electric vehicles powered by lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries." In addition to NHTSA's presentations, the Department of Energy, automotive manufacturers and battery makers will participate. Given the bias of the participants, the symposium sounds like it is going to be less informational and more infomercial.
When JPM Chase reported that it had lost $2 billion recently on risky derivative trades, the predictable call came from the Obama Administration to increase regulation on banks. The hypocrisy of the politically motivated proclamations becomes evident when you compare the JPM trades to Treasury's continued gamble on its taxpayer funded stake in General Motors, which has suffered an approximate $5 billion loss in value over the past year.