By Mike Caggeso
Embattled carmaker General Motors Corp. (GM) is planning thousands of additional white-collar job cuts and mulling over the sale off some of its brands, sources told the Wall Street Journal.
The strategic shifts are part of General Motors' plan to return to profitability by 2010, a goal that will require a lot of changes to the company model. And they come at a time when U.S. auto sales are the slowest in 15 years, gas prices have edged above the $4-a-gallon mark, and GM's stock is trading at a 54-year low.
The decision on the job cuts will come at the No. 1 automaker's board of directors meeting in August, where the GM board may also entertain management's suggestions about trimming its number of brands, sources told the paper.
General Motors M's entire global brand roster – Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GM Daewoo, GMC, Holden, Hummer, Opel, Pontiac, Saab, Saturn and Vauxhall – are under the microscope and only its core Cadillac and Chevrolet lines are safe from potential sale, other sources told the Journal.
General Motors has already announced that Hummer is on the sales block.
Ford also recently announced that it would cut costs by eliminating about 2,000 salaried positions.
General Motors Sizing Down?
News of the potential job cuts and brand reduction follow reports last week that Chevrolet Beat, in the United States., the
Though not a hybrid, the Beat can get as much as 40 miles per gallon. GM – whose autoline is heavy on trucks, SUVs and the gas-guzzling Hummer – hopes that number will appeal to U.S. drivers, who are hampered by record gasoline costs.
"This is a very big change for GM," John Wolkonowicz, an analyst at Global Insight Inc. in Lexington, Mass., told Bloomberg. "They have no choice. There's never been as rapid a shift in consumer demand in the history of the auto industry."
Year-to-date, GM has been the worst performing stock on the Dow Jones Industrial Average Index, falling nearly 59%.
The damage has actually lifted the value of its 25-cent quarterly dividend, but that's about the extent of the good news. However, even that dividend may be at risk, the Journal reported.
If GM sells additional shares to raise cash, the quarterly dividend becomes more of a burden. Should the board vote to suspend GM's dividend, the automaker would preserve about $550 million a year, the Journal reported.
News and Related Story Links:
The Wall Street Journal:
GM Weighs More Layoffs, Sale of Brands
GM May Sell Mini-Cars to Fuel-Conscious U.S. Buyers, People Say