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GM May Buy Back More Stock, Revive Dividend

“We’re getting stronger,” CEO Akerson declares.

by on Jun.07, 2013

GM's headquarters at the Detroit Renaissance Center.

General Motors investors have had a lot to celebrate in recent weeks watching the maker’s shares surge, the stock rejoining the influential S&P 500 – and now, with Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson suggesting the maker might be ready to restore the GM dividend for the first time since 2008.

Akerson also is weighing the possibility of buying back more GM shares, a move that could further drive up a stock that has nearly doubled since hitting a low point last July.

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But, “First and foremost we must continue to invest in this company so we don’t lose the competitive edge that we have today,” Akerson told stockholders meeting in Detroit, an event where he declared the company’s bailout and revival a success.

While there remain many critics willing to debate the merits of the $50 billion federal bailout, there’s no question things have been improving for GM on a variety of fronts, with sales and market share up and with a plan in place that could finally staunch the draining losses in Europe.

Meanwhile, the federal government continues its planned exit, the Treasury intending to sell off another 30 million shares of GM stock this month – while the UAW retirement fund that also holds a chunk of GM stock is planning to sell off 20 million shares.

At peak, taxpayers held nearly 61% of the Detroit automaker.  By month’s end that is expected to dip below 14%, with the Treasury aiming to sell off its last GM holdings before April of 2014.

The good news for the government is that with GM shares hovering in the $34 to $35-a-share range in recent days the Treasury will recover billions more than it would have last summer when the carmaker dipped to barely $18 on the NY Stock Exchange. Even so, the latest estimate is that the government will ultimately fall about $6 billion short of recouping its entire investment.

(Bailout a success, Akerson tells investors. Click Here for more.)

For private investors who bought in during or after the November 2010 GM IPO, however, the news is likely to be much better – especially if Akerson follows through on some of the hints he offered during this week’s shareholders meeting.

The maker bought a large chunk of government stock last December and may buy back even more, Akerson suggested.  By trimming the number of shares available that could further drive up GM’s stock price.

Another positive step in that direction came just after investors met at GM’s Detroit Renaissance Center headquarters – the S&P 500 adding GM to its list for the first time since the maker went bankrupt in 2009. That move certainly has prestige value, but there’s also a practical advantage. A number of indexed stock funds can only buy from the S&P 500 which means stronger demand for GM shares, further upping its price.

(For more on GM’s return to the S&P 500, Click Here.)

“We’ve come this far and I think the market recognizes that we’re no longer bedside and on the emergency list,” Akerson told reporters following the meeting. “We’re up, we’re moving around, we’re taking food, we’re starting to exercise and we’re getting stronger.”

There are several other steps GM needs to take, however, and one is restoring its dividend, a payout the maker was forced to halt during its headlong plunge towards bankruptcy. That’s one very possible action, Akerson hinted, though he declined to lock it down or offer a timetable.

But as cross-town rival Ford recently discovered, a dividend pays off in return. It was one of the factors that helped Ford get its investment grade credit rating back. For now, GM remains one step short of that level, something Akerson has listed as among of his own highest priorities.


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One Response to “GM May Buy Back More Stock, Revive Dividend”

  1. Jorge M. says:

    …and tax payers will still be out billions of dollars while GM laughs all the way to the bank in China as well as the U.S.