GM's Bara has optimistic message for stockholders

(June 11, 2014) DETROIT — General Motors CEO Mary Barra addressed stockholders at the company’s 2014 Annual Meeting Tuesday, telling them the company is in the best position to meet and exceed competitive challenges.

“In every market, consumers have more and better automotive choices than ever before,” Barra said. “And the competition is only going to get tougher. This is a reality. Another reality is that GM is positioned to be stronger, leaner and more responsive than ever before.”

She described 2013 as an historic year, during which the company passed a number of important milestones:

    • GM launched award-winning products around the world, including the Chevrolet Silverado, Cadillac CTS and Corvette Stingray

    • The company earned net income attributable to common stockholders of $3.8 billion and earnings before interest, taxes adjusted for special items (EBIT-adj.) of $8.6 billion, a year-over-year increase of $700 million

   •  EBIT-adjusted earnings in North America set a record; GM Financial had record earnings before tax; and equity income from the company’s joint ventures in China also set a record

    • Losses in Europe were significantly reduced and the South America region was profitable

    • Moody’s Investors Service upgraded GM’s credit rating to investment grade

    • Standard & Poor’s added GM common stock to the S&P 500 Index

    • The United States Treasury sold its remaining stake in the company

GM’s strong and consistent financial performance paved the way for the company’s Board of Directors to declare a common stock dividend in January 2014. The dividend was paid in March.

During the meeting, Barra also outlined steps the company is taking in response to the ignition switch recalls, and she again expressed her deepest sympathies to the victims and their families.

“I know there are no words that can ease their pain and grief,” she said. “I have and will be guided by two clear principles: to do right thing for those that were harmed and to make sure we accept responsibility for our mistakes and commit to doing everything within our power to prevent this sort of problem from ever happening again.”

Last week, former U.S. Attorney Anton Valukas delivered the findings of his independent ignition switch investigation to the GM Board, and Barra acted to hold individuals accountable for their conduct. She also committed the company to act on recommendations made by Valukas in eight major areas. Many of the recommendations have already been implemented.

Barra also briefed stockholders on last week’s announcement that independent administrator Kenneth Feinberg will oversee a compensation fund for those who lost loved ones or who suffered serious physical injuries as a result of an ignition switch failure. The program underscores GM’s commitment to do the right thing and treat accident victims and their families with “compassion, decency and fairness,” she said.

In conclusion, Barra told stockholders that she feels very good about GM’s near- and long-term potential because of everything being done to make the company stronger and more responsive.

“Today, GM is a very good company,” she said.  “Tomorrow, we can be a truly great company.”