GM CEO Mary Barra: The Cameras Love Her. So Do Employees. But Will … – Forbes

Posted: Thursday, January 16, 2014
GM Global Product Chief Mary Barra

GM CEO Mary Barra

Mary Barra marked her first day on the job as chief executive of General Motors General Motors with a video message to employees, urging them to keep up the company’s momentum. But her initiation came Sunday night, when she was swarmed by a pack of hungry journalists at the Detroit auto show. Amid the pushing and shoving, Barra remained calm, saying she was “honored” and “humbled” to serve GM.

Such grace under pressure is one of the reasons GM’s first female chief executive is so popular among employees, who’ve endured years of turmoil and executive churn. As my neighbor, a longtime GM worker, remarked about Barra’s rise after 33 years with the automaker, nobody’s looking over their shoulder or worrying about yet another management change. “Everybody knows Mary. Everybody likes her.”

What about investors, though? They seemed disappointed by GM’s forecast of modest profit growth in 2014 as it continues to focus on trouble spots around the world. GM shares fell 64 cents (almost 2 percent) Wednesday, one day after it announced it would issue its first quarterly dividend since 2008. The 30-cent-a-share payout will come in March.

At a Deutsche Bank Deutsche Bank conference in Detroit, President Dan Amman said GM’s results will remain strong in North America and China, but improvements will be partially offset by $1.1 billion in restructuring expenses to fix its operations in Europe, Australia and other markets. GM’s adjusted EBIT margin is expected to be flat with 2013.

Global car sales will grow about 2 percent, to more than 85 million vehicles, GM said, adding that U.S. sales will likely be 16 million to 16.5 million light vehicles, up from 15.6 million last year.

GM plans 15 new or refreshed vehicles in the U.S. this year, and 17 in China, though most will come later in the year, helping GM’s earnings in 2015. The carmaker hopes to break even in Europe by mid-decade.

In related news, GM named Chuck Stevens as chief financial officer, replacing Amman.



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