GM's profit surged in the latest quarter, and the automaker plans to hike its dividend 20 percent once it resolves its legal issues. Fred Katayama reports.
GM finished a challenging year with momentum. Quarterly profit surged as customers snapped up more of its big trucks. And for the full year, General Motors would've earned nearly two-and-a-half billion dollars more had it not been for its massive recalls due to faulty ignition switches. Kelley Blue Book senior director of insights Karl Brauer said, "They're selilng trucks. They're selling SUVs. And they're controlling their incentive spending. You're left with profitability." Operating profit shot up in North America and in its international operations, where GM gobbled up more market share in China. But losses widened in Europe. GM lost share in Russia, where it has been cutting production after being hit hard by the falling rouble. It has dropped the Chevy brand in Europe after it failed to make inroads there. After a turbulent first year as CEO, Mary Barra aims to restore Europe to profitability in 2016. GM is sharing some of the wealth. It plans to hike its dividend by 20 percent once it resolves its legal issues over the recall. And it will hand out annual bonus checks of up to $9,000 to its 48,000 union workers. GM's shares, which inched up just 3 percent last year, rose sharply in early trading.