Bloomberg reports that a “person familiar with the matter” says the US Treasury won’t sell its remaining stake in GM as long as the automaker trades below its $33/share IPO price. Previously the government’s auto team had said it would not try to “time the market” and our analysis showed that the Treasury was likely to sell sometime late this Summer. But it’s been months since GM spent more than a few days above its IPO price, indicating that Treasury may be waiting considerably longer if the IPO-price floor is set in stone. And with $36.5b in cash equivalents on hand and only $5b in debt, GM’s $45b market cap is hardly encouraging… especially with investors waiting for The General to match Ford’s profitability levels. Heavier discounts mean a lower operating profit for GM in the US market, and the first quarter shows a $1b swing in pricing between the two firms (with Ford improving $700m and GM dropping $300m) according to Bloomberg. Lower finance earnings are also holding The General back relative to Ford. So, what’s GM’s response?
Since GM has only recently come out with GAAP-approved financials, determining the company’s value isn’t easy. Still, The Detroit Free Press‘s Tom Walsh reckons The General is worth more than Ford, despite the fact that GM recently fell out of the Fortune 500’s top ten (and below Ford) for the first time in its 100+ years of history. What gives?
The Wall Street Journal‘s Liam Denning figures it isn’t. He writes:
Ford expects to resume profitability in 2011, and the consensus forecast is for per-share earnings of $1.13. The implied price/earnings multiple of 8.6 times doesn’t sound too demanding. But as Chris Ceraso of Credit Suisse points out, it translates to a margin of earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization of nearly 10%, something Ford hasn’t enjoyed since the late 1990s.