General Motors (NYSE: GM) announced fat fourth-quarter and year-end results this morning. The Detroit-based auto maker banked the bucks thanks in part to hearty sales of its pick-up trucks and sport utility vehicles.

Its revenues reached a record $48.7 billion in the fourth quarter, nearly 6% ahead of the previous quarter's $46 billion. The giant earned $1 billion for the quarter, including results and items from its Hughes Electronics(NYSE: GMH) unit, versus $255 million last year. Excluding Hughes, GM earned $934 million compared to $386 million.

On a per-share basis, the company generated $1.71 including the Hughes results and items, and $1.67 without them. Last year, it earned $0.60 a share, or $0.69 excluding Hughes items.

For the entire year, GM, including Hughes, made $1.7 billion on sales of $186.8 billion. That's $3.35 a share. Last year, its revenues were $177.26 billion, and it earned $601 million, or $1.77 a share.

Those ubiquitous financing incentives are definitely paying off. Its global automotive operations earned $563 million for the fourth quarter, versus just $66 million last year. Production volume rose 10% in total for the quarter, and 14% just for trucks, meaning that GM churned out 1.425 million vehicles. And because its structural costs are so low, that higher volume easily translates into more earnings.

The Dow component also grabbed more of the North American automotive market during the year, now controlling 28.3% of it. Reflecting this, GM North America earned $3 billion in 2002. The company expects to maintain its dominance here by continuing to offer aggressive sales incentives, along with introducing 12 new vehicle models this year.

GM sold an industry record 1.2 million SUVs during 2002. Those behemoths may be the most hotly debated issue around, but there's no denying that a hefty demand still exists. Its Suburbans, Tahoes, and the newly introduced Hummer H2, for example, remain popular. The company is counting on their continued popularity for a positive 2003, as SUVs cost less to produce and sell for more than the average car.

GM hopes its good fortune continues, as it faces an auto market with ever-declining prices and uncertain demand levels. The company did just pull off strong results, though, in a year many thought would, at best, end up being so-so for U.S. car makers. With shares off 30% over the last year, and a dividend yield of nearly 5%, GM might be worth a test drive here.