By Joseph White
DETROIT (Reuters) – Detroit automakers General Motors Co and Ford Motor Co will try to convince Wall Street when they release first-quarter earnings this week that they will not be dragged into a price war with electric vehicle maker Tesla Inc.
So far, investors remain unconvinced. Shares in GM are down more than 20% from their 2023 peak in February, and are trading close to their 2010 IPO price of $33 a share. Ford shares are down 13% since February as Tesla CEO Elon Musk has escalated a strategy of squeezing his company’s profit margins to expand sales volume.
GM reports first-quarter results on Wednesday. This month, the automaker signaled an upbeat outlook with its first quarter U.S. sales report, titled “Off to a Great Start.” GM’s first-quarter U.S. sales rose 18% from a year ago, with sales of high-margin trucks and SUVs leading the way.
At the same time, GM CEO Mary Barra is accelerating a drive to cut operating costs by $2 billion by year end. Chief Financial Officer Paul Jacobson told investors this month that 5,000 GM employees people had accepted severance deals.
So far, GM has been slow to ramp up in production of its newest EVs, with just 968 Cadillac Lyriq EVs delivered in the first quarter. In the near term, that could help the company dodge the impact of Tesla’s price cuts, J.P. Morgan analyst Ryan Brinkman wrote in a note Monday.
“GM and Ford should see drastically better trends in pricing and resulting margin impacts than did Tesla” in the first quarter, Brinkman wrote. However, he added, investors are concerned that “weakness in EV pricing could spread beyond Tesla to other automakers’ electric vehicles and — much more importantly — into the broader market for new vehicles generally.”
Ford, which reports first-quarter results on May 2, also reported strong first-quarter truck sales in the U.S. – with deliveries of F-150 pickup trucks jumping 21% from year ago levels, depressed by semiconductor shortages.
The first-quarter report will be the debut for Ford’s new financial reporting approach, reflecting its broader restructuring.
The company will report results for its Model e electric vehicle business, Ford Blue combustion vehicle operations and Ford Pro commercial vehicle unit. In a briefing last month, Ford signaled its EV unit could lose $3 billion before taxes this year.
(Reporting By Joe White; Editing by David Gregorio)