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Why Shares of General Motors Are Rising Today

By John Rosevear – Updated Apr 29, 2020 at 1:22PM

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It's all about what Ford said (and what GM hasn't said).

What happened

Shares of General Motors (GM -2.92%) were rising on Wednesday, after rival Ford Motor Company (F -1.29%) reported a first-quarter loss and said that its losses in the current quarter could exceed $5 billion.

As of 1 p.m. EDT today, GM's shares were up about 10.3% from Tuesday's closing price.

So what

Why would Ford's earnings report be moving GM's stock? It's about what GM hasn't said.

On April 13, Ford warned that it expected to report a sharp drop in revenue and a loss for the first quarter, after it (like GM) closed most of its plants outside of China in mid-March as the coronavirus spread around the world.

Barra, wearing a mask and safety goggles, is shown inspecting a GM factory making face masks and protective gear earlier this month.

Will GM report a first-quarter loss? CEO Mary Barra hasn't said, and some investors think her silence speaks volumes. Image source: General Motors.

Ford followed up on April 17 with more detail: Its net loss for the first quarter would be about $2 billion. And then on Tuesday, it released its first-quarter numbers, which were in line with its warnings -- and it warned again, saying that its pre-tax loss in the second quarter could be more than $5 billion. 

None of that was really surprising to auto investors, of course. But what has been somewhat surprising is that GM stayed awfully quiet while Ford was doing all that. 

Like Ford, GM drew down its available credit lines in March. Like Ford, GM has suspended its dividend payments for the time being to conserve cash. Like Ford, GM withdrew its guidance for 2020. 

But unlike Ford, GM hasn't warned that it'll post a loss for the first quarter.

Long story short: I think investors are thinking that if GM hasn't issued a warning, then its results probably won't be as bad as Ford's. I'm sure that's a good assumption, but I think it's what is moving the stock today. 

Now what

Will GM post a multibillion-dollar loss? Will GM give guidance as grim as Ford's? How long will GM's cash hoard hold out? 

Investors will have to wait just one more week to find out: GM will report its first-quarter earnings results before the market opens next Wednesday, May 6. 

John Rosevear owns shares of Ford and General Motors. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

General Motors Company Stock Quote
General Motors Company
$33.62 (-2.92%) $-1.01
Ford Motor Company Stock Quote
Ford Motor Company
$12.20 (-1.29%) $0.16

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