General Motors Corp. (NYSE: GM) reported today (Thursday) its biggest annual profit ever for 2011, but weakness from Europe could dull the share-price rally.
Net income for the 2011 fiscal year hit $7.6 billion, 62% higher than the $4.7 billion GM earned a year ago and more than the previous record of $6.7 billion in 1997. Revenue increased 11% to $150.3 billion.
Net income for the quarter hit $472 million, or 28 cents a share, down from $510 million, or 31 cents a share, a year ago.
North America was GM's biggest income driver, accounting for $7.2 billion of the year's profit. GM suffered a $747 million loss in Europe, where consumer spending is struggling.
"We clearly have work to do in Europe," GM Chief Financial Officer Dan Ammann told reporters. "We have work to do in the South America business. Frankly, we have work to do all around the company in terms of cost opportunity."
Investors remain wary over how successful GM will be at maintaining its profit rise as long as Europe remains weak - and looks increasingly weaker.
"Just because things were looking OK at the end of last year doesn't mean that they will continue to look OK," Richard Cookson, chief investment officer of Citi Private Bank, told MSNBC. "Our best guess is that conditions will continue to deteriorate. This is going to be unpleasant, to put it mildly."