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GM exceeds expectations by posting $3.2B net profit
General Motors made $3.2 billion in the first three months of 2011, for its fifth-straight quarterly profit, including $1.5 billion from one-time charges that included the sale of GM’s stake in Delphi and preferred stock in former in-house lender Ally Financial.

The net profit exceeded the $1.6-billion estimate compiled by Thomson One Analytics’ survey of 16 analysts.

Excluding special items, GM made $2 billion before interest and taxes, which compares with earnings of $1.7 billion a year earlier. The 18% improvement adds to a string of quarterly profits that’s the automaker’s longest since an eight-quarter stretch from 2002 to 2004.

“It’s good progress. It sets up a good foundation for the rest of the year,” Chief Financial Officer Dan Ammann told reporters this morning, adding that GM doesn’t think its 2011 sales or earnings will be impacted by the Japanese earthquake or tsunami. “Our purchasing and engineering teams have done a good job.”

The U.S. Treasury, which holds about a quarter of GM’s common stock, is waiting to see how Wall Street reacts to the earnings before it weighs when to sell more of the stake it got in exchange for $50 billion in aid to the automaker.

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