NEW YORK (AP) -- General Motors' shares climbed Wednesday, reaching their highest point since reentering the public markets more than two years ago, as a hedge fund sees the automaker's stock price rising at least 40% over the next 12 to 18 months.

The spark: Hayman Capital Management LP believes the stock has significant upside potential because the U.S. government is still a big shareholder and is in the process of selling its ownership stake -- "creating consistent selling pressure."

The government received ownership of some GM stock in exchange for a $49.5 billion bailout in 2008 and 2009. It has been steadily working to divest itself from the stake. The government is expected to shed its remaining stake in the company by year-end.

Hayman said that once the government is free of its remaining stake in GM, the Detroit company will likely start a "meaningful" dividend or potential stock buyback.

Hayman also said that GM is diversified and well positioned for growth, having gained market share in the Asia, Middle East and Africa region.

Tuesday, GM reported a 14% gain in sales during November, and industrywide sales ran at an annual pace of 16.4 million cars and trucks last month, the best in almost seven years.

Share action: General Motors Co. added $0.88, or 2.3%, to $39.02 in afternoon trading. The stock reached $39.62 earlier, its highest point since reentering the public markets in November 2010.

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