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GM Opel to Sell Six Facilities

GM F

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The luxury automaker Opel plans to sell six facilities in Europe to its U.S. parent General Motors Company (GM - Analyst Report) in order to win extended funding. The transaction includes an engine plant in Hungary, a development center in Turin, Italy, and a facility in Gliwice, Poland.

The decision will help the Ruesselsheim,  a Germany-based automaker receive funding till 2016. Opel is obligated to pay back a loan to GM by 2014.

A few months back, Opel announced to cut its administrative workforce by 30% or 1,000 jobs at its Ruesselsheim headquarters in Germany as part of GM’s 10-year plan “Drive Opel 2022” that include reduction in personnel costs. Opel also shut down two plants in Britain, located in Ellesmere Port and Luton. The move idled 3,000 workers at the plants.

Opel faces weak car sales, high fixed costs and excess production capacity. These resulted in a total loss of $17.3 billion since 1999.
    
In the first half of 2012, Opel’s loss amounted to €938 ($1,200) per vehicle sold, according to the CAR Center of Automotive Research at the University of Duisburg-Essen. Its deliveries in Europe dipped 15% to 457,630 vehicles due to weak demand emanating from the debt-crisis in Europe and strong competition from Asian automakers.

Opel expects to report an operating loss of €1 billion ($1.3 billion) in 2012 due to fewer car sales than anticipated. The unit expects to sell 1.4 million vehicles in 2012, which are about 100,000 units less than the earlier projected sales.

In order to reverse the 12 years of losses in Europe, particularly from the Opel brand, GM formed a global alliance with PSA Peugeot Citroen . The pact will help both the automakers reduce at least $2 billion in costs. In order to strengthen the market position, GM also plans to expand Opel’s lineup by introducing 23 models by 2016.

The present Euro zone financial crisis has affected the operations of many global automakers, especially GM and Ford Motor Co. (F - Analyst Report). Both the automakers have a significant exposure to the market.

GM, a Zacks #3 Rank (Hold) stock, posted a 9.7% fall in earnings to 93 cents per share (excluding special items) in the third quarter of the year from $1.03 in the corresponding quarter a year ago. However, earnings per share in the quarter far exceeded the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 61 cents.

Revenues in the quarter grew 2.5% to $37.6 billion, surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $36.3 billion. Worldwide sales volume inched up 1.6% to 2.3 million units from 2.2 million units a year ago. However, total market share declined to 11.6% from 12.1% in the third quarter of 2011.

Operating income fell 11.2% to $1.6 billion from $1.8 billion a year ago. However, adjusted earnings before interest and tax rose 4.5% to $2.3 billion from $2.2 billion a year ago.

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