GM beats profit forecast despite chip shortage, cites strong market in China, North America

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General Motors posted a $3 billion first-quarter profit Wednesday, beating Wall Street expectations amid a semiconductor shortage that held back operations.

GM CEO Mary Barra said the company will face downtime from the shortage in the second quarter, but she expects to meet the company’s overall profit forecast for 2021.

“The speed and agility of our team are front and center as we move from managing through a pandemic to managing the global semiconductor shortage,” she told shareholders. “This remains a challenging period for the company as we emerge from 2020, but the team continues to demonstrate its ability to manage complex situations.”

The company’s first-quarter earnings of $2.25 per share beat forecasts of $1.04 per share.

Ms. Barra said the results highlighted the “underlying strength of our business,” particularly in North America and China.

Automakers around the world are trying to juggle production schedules because of the shortfall in semiconductors used in instrumental panels and engine controls. Major auto companies like General Motors, Ford and Subaru have had to idle plants recently due to the shortage.

Demand for the auto chips plummeted during the pandemic but has rebounded much more quickly than anticipated.

President Biden says that semiconductor chips and batteries constitute “infrastructure” that the U.S. needs to invest in their production to keep up with China on the world stage.

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