Saturday, May 26, 2018
Business

GM returns to $33 IPO price on optimism after 2-year slump

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. — General Motors, poised to rejoin the Standard & Poor's 500 Index, topped its $33 initial public offering price for the first time in more than two years Friday as the automaker prepares to introduce redesigned full-sized pickups.

GM rose 3.2 percent to $33.42 at the close in New York after touching $33.77. The shares peaked at $38.98 at the close on Jan. 7, 2011, less than two months after its November 2010 IPO. They slid below the IPO price in March 2011 and reached a low closing price of $18.80 in July 2012.

Confidence in Detroit-based GM is growing as the U.S. Treasury sells down its stake, helping facilitate a return to the S&P 500. The automaker also plans to introduce about 20 new vehicles in the United States this year, including its profitable Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups, as it seeks to rebound from an 88-year-low market share in 2012.

"The turnaround story that they've been outlining, it's really starting to come together," David Whiston, an equity analyst with Morningstar in Chicago, said Friday. "Especially next year, I think, is going to be fantastic for them" as sales of the new trucks take hold.

GM's share price may also be a milestone in the political debate about whether the United States should have provided a $49.5 billion bailout in 2009. Critics dubbed GM "Government Motors." Republican 2012 challenger Mitt Romney attacked President Barack Obama on the issue.

The automaker has said it expects modest improvement this year compared with 2012, when it earned $6.19 billion, its third profitable year since emerging from its 2009 U.S.-backed bankruptcy reorganization.

Shares began to slowly rebound in August as GM held talks with labor unions about cutting work hours at its main factory in Germany to lower production. The company later in the year also discussed its new product lineup for 2013, including Silverado, GM's top-selling vehicle in the United States. Full-sized pickups are the main source of profit for GM as well as U.S.-based competitors Ford and Chrysler.

GM shares in December reached their highest price in 10 months after GM announced it would spend $5.5 billion to buy 200 million shares back from the Treasury, and the government said it would sell the rest of the holding within 15 months. As of April 1, the Treasury held 241.7 million shares, representing a 16.4 percent stake, according to GM's proxy statement.

GM joined Ford and Chrysler in gaining U.S. market share in the first quarter for the first time in 20 years, fueled by the most competitive lineup from top to bottom in a generation.

"There are some things that have improved" since July, said Christian Mayes, an analyst with Edward Jones. "You're seeing more interest from fund managers and that type of investor."

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