GM Q1 2021 Earnings: $3 Billion Income On $32.5 Billion Revenue

As expected, General Motors Company reported its first quarter 2021 financial results today. GM Q1 2021 earnings are headlined by a $3 billion income on $32.5 billion in revenue. Compared to the first quarter of 2020, these results represent a 900 percent jump in income on 0.6 percent lower revenue.

In a press release, GM stated that the earnings were driven by strong price and mix performance in North America, strong credit and residual value performance at GM Financial, and industry recovery in China.

GM Q1 2021 Earnings Summary

Figures in billions of USD, except for per share amounts and percentages.
METRICQ1 2021Q1 2020Q1 2021 - Q1 2020% CHANGE Q1 2021 / Q1 2020
NET INCOME$3.0$0.3$+2.70+900%
EARNINGS PER SHARE (EPS) DILUTED$2.03$0.17$+1.86+1094.1%
EPS DILUTED - ADJUSTED$2.25$0.62$+1.63+262.9%
- CHINA EQUITY INCOME$0.3-$0.2$+0.50+250%
GM FINANCIAL EBT-ADJUSTED$1.2$0.2$+1.00+500%

GM North America

GM North America (GMNA), General Motors’ largest and most profitable division, posted:

  • $26 billion in revenue on 664K wholesales vs. $25.8 billion in revenue and 775K wholesales in the year-ago quarter
  • $3.1 billion EBIT-adjusted vs. $2.2 billion in the year-ago quarter
  • U.S. dealer inventory of 335K units vs. 668K in the year-ago quarter
  • U.S. EV sales totaled 9K units for a 9.3 percent share of U.S. EV market vs. 5.9K sales and 9.7 percent share in the year-ago quarter
    • GM says that it’s committed to #1 EV market share in North America
  • $3.5K increase in per unit retail Average Transaction Prices primarily as a result of the launch of all-new full-size SUVs and strong vehicle pricing on full-size pickups due to tight inventory and strong product demand
  • Volume and mix increased slightly due to the prioritization of full-size pickup and full-size SUV production to offset decreased volumes resulting from the ongoing semiconductor shortage
  • A 19 percent increase in U.S. retail sales volume despite tight inventory
  • 60 percent year-over-year Chevrolet Bolt U.S. retail sales increase during Q1
  • Cost increased due to higher material cost on new vehicle launches, commodity costs and incremental engineering spend on EV and software development partially offset by cost efficiencies

GM International

GM International (GMI), which excludes GM China joint venture results, posted:

  • $3.1 billion in revenue on 157K wholesales vs. $3.3 billion and 191K wholesales in the year-ago quarter
  • $0.3 billion EBIT-adjusted vs. -$0.6 billion in the year-ago quarter, driven by new vehicle launches, pricing actions across international markets and continued improvements from restructuring actions

GM China Auto Joint Venture

GM’s China joint ventures posted:

  • $9.9 billion in revenue on 675K wholesales vs. $4.3 billion in revenue on 341K wholesales in the year-ago quarter
  • Equity income was $0.3 billion vs. -$0.2 billion in the year-ago quarter, primarily driven by the impact of the pandemic in Q1 2020
  • Results slightly above GM’s ~$0.2 billion quarterly run-rate
  • Cadillac posted a Q1 sales record
  • Wuling MINI EV continued to be the top selling EV in China

GM Cruise

Cruise, GM’s division focused on developing and bringing to market a robo-taxi service, posted:

  • $0 in revenue, equal to that in the year-ago quarter
  • -$0.2 billion EBIT-adjusted vs. -$0.2 billion in the year-ago quarter
  • $0.2 billion cash used for operating activities
  • After a comprehensive multi-year process, Cruise was selected to be the exclusive provider of self-driving taxis in Dubai through 2021. The division plans to scale up to 4,000 self-driving taxis by 2030
  • The division has raised $2.8 billion in 2021 at a post-money valuation of more than $30 billion, which includes investments form Honda, Microsoft, Walmart, GM and others, further validating the subsidiary’s technology and strategy

GM Financial

GM Financial, General Motors’ captive finance arm, posted:

  • $1.2 billion EBT-adjusted with a 27.3 percent return on average tangible common equity vs. $0.2 billion and 14.3 percent in the year-ago quarter
  • $29.2 billion in liquidity on 7.94x leverage ratio vs. $23.9 billion and 9.32x in the year-ago quarter
  • Ending earning assets of $100.8 billion vs. $96.1 billion in the year-ago quarter
  • Used vehicle prices increased around 11 percent year-over-year
  • GM Financial paid $0.6 billion dividend to GM during Q1 2021
  • The division has sufficient capital and ample liquidity to support earning asset growth and navigate economic cycles

Cadillac XT6

Automotive Liquidity & Debt

GM ended the quarter with $37.2 billion in automotive liquidity, comprised of $19 billion in cash, cash equivalents and marketable debt securities and $18.2 billion in available credit facilities. That compares to $40.5 billion in last quarter of 2020, comprised of $22.3 billion in cash, cash equivalents and marketable debt securities and $18.2 billion in available credit facilities.

Total automotive debt was $17.5 billion vs. $17.5 billion in the last quarter of 2020. Both figures are comprised of senior unsecured notes and other instruments.


GM provided the following full-year 2021 guidance:

  • EBIT-adjusted: $10.0 billion – $11.0 billion
  • Earnings per share (EPS) diluted-adjusted of $4.50 – $5.25
  • Adjusted automotive free cash flow of $1.0 billion – $2.0 billion

The automaker said that it was “managing through the semiconductor shortage” and that the situation “will not not impact growth and EV initiatives.” To that end, GM is prioritizing full-size pickups, full-size SUVs and EVs. The estimated net impact included in guidance consists of:

  • EBIT-adjusted of $1.5B – $2.0B
  • Adjusted automotive free cash flow of $1.5B – $2.5B

Strategic Direction

GM reiterated its short-term and medium-term direction, as follows:

  • Focus on profitable growth opportunities and new revenue streams by executing on an all-electric future
  • Prioritizing speed to market as organization launches 30 new EVs in North America and China by 2025 – spending more than $7 billion on EV/AV investments in 2021
  • Upcoming EV launches including GMC Hummer EV pickup and SUV, and Cadillac Lyriq are on track
  • Construction of Lordstown battery plant, Factory Zero, Spring Hill electric vehicle plant and CAMI is progressing with no delays

The Detroit-based automaker plans to share additional insight into its growth strategy, including software and services, at an event later this year.

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Alex Luft: GM Authority Founder with a passion for global automotive business strategy.

View Comments (14)

  • The earnings were impressive. and show that GM has structurally changed. GM is not the old dinosaur, and has shown that even a giant corporation can be flexible and adjust to changing markets. Impressive job GM, next couple months might be tough, but there is sunshine ahead of the darkness.

    • And whatever they change, you’ll still complain about it. Nothing GM does will ever be good enough for you.

      What’s it like to go through life chronically complaining about everything? You should change your outlook.

  • so just about all of these profits came from big suv/trucks and financial. and ev/av's????? probably zero.

    still waiting for that ev/av bet to pay off.

    • Well in some ways the AV has already paid off for GM, GM bought Cruise Automation for $500M and its now worth $30B (the valuation Microsoft, and Honda invested at) GM just got other companies to invest $2.75B in the last 6 months, so that looks like it was a pretty sweet investment. The other thing GM faces, is how to attract top young engineering talent, believe it or not the top engineers would rather work at Tesla or SpaceX, why? Innovation, and the opportunity to change the world. Building better trucks and SUV is not very interesting to the top young engineering talent, oh ya, and then there are the investors, who wants to invest into an old stodgy company that is stuck in the status quo? Mary Barra has brought new investors in and brought back old investors that had left GM for dead, hence why GM stock is at an all time high this year. Every time GM says new EV the stock jumps... get it?

  • Come on GM....it long past due that you should have walked out Barra at 23 million a year. It shouldn't be hard to find a younger more educated and less expensive CEO .

    • @Luther: We all know you mean you want them to hire some old white man so you can feel secure in your masculinity. How did that work out for Ford?

      • Well, I’m not sure why you brought ford into this, but being that none of those “old white guys” BANKRUPTED the company and begged the taxpayers for a bailout, you should probably leave them out of it.

    • If only you understood how executive compensation works. Hint: As long as financial targets are met, the Board of Directors won't be getting rid of Barra.

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