GM's bankruptcy, financed by the U.S. and Canadian governments, allowed the company to shed debt, excess factories, four of its weaker brands and many other costs.
The nation's largest automaker, GM earned $4.7 billion for the year. That ends a string of five years of losses during which the cumulative red ink topped $100 billion. The profit was the biggest at the company since 1999.
In the fourth quarter, the company earned $510 million, or 31 cents a share, compared to a loss of $3.5 billion a year earlier. But excluding a charge related to the purchase of preferred shares, the company earned 52 cents a share in the quarter, which is better than forecasts of a 46 cent a share profit from analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters.
The profit is good news for the nearly 50,000 hourly workers at GM's U.S. factories who will get profit-sharing bonuses averaging $4,300, the largest in the company's history and a bit better than had been promised to them in a letter last week.
Workers at rival Ford Motor received bonus checks of about $5,000, and Chrysler Group expects to pay yet undisclosed performance bonuses to its workers, despite continued losses there.
Shares of GM gained slightly in pre-market trading following the report. Shares have tumbled 5% in the last two days on the spike in oil prices sparked by unrest in Libya.
Chris Isidore, senior writer
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