What happened

Shares of General Motors (NYSE:GM) were rising at midday on Monday, amid a broad-based market rally on signs that the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic might not be quite as bad as feared.

As of 12:30 p.m. EDT today, GM's shares were up about 7.3% from Friday's closing price.

So what

GM reported its first-quarter U.S. sales last week, and they weren't bad: While overall sales were down 7% from the same period in 2019, sales of GM's mainstay full-size pickups were up a combined 32%. Not only are those very profitable sales for GM, but the strength of the new-last-year Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 also bodes well for GM's business once the economy starts to recover. 

Barra is shown wearing a mask and safety glasses, standing on a factory floor.

GM CEO Mary Barra at GM's improvised mask factory in Warren, Michigan, last week. The factory expects to deliver its first 20,000 masks on Wednesday, April 8. Image source: General Motors.

Meanwhile, with its auto factories in North America idled for the duration, GM -- like rival Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) -- has turned to making supplies for hospitals and first responders overwhelmed by the pandemic, including ventilators, respirators, and masks. All are in short supply.

Speaking of Ford, while GM's old rival has suspended its dividend for the time being, dividend-minded investors should note that GM has yet to do the same -- and that GM's dividend yield is about 8.4% at current prices. While GM could still suspend its dividend at any time, the fact that it hasn't yet done so is a sign that it will try to maintain it. 

Now what

GM, like Ford and most other automakers, is burning a lot of cash with its factories idled. That said, GM has plenty of cash to burn, almost certainly enough to weather this storm. I expect we'll get a detailed update from CEO Mary Barra when the company reports its first-quarter earnings before the market opens on May 6. 

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.