Or it would seem from the looks of the CNN piece:
General Motors is preparing to announce that the Pontiac car brand — once marketed as GM’s “Excitement division” — will be killed off, according to a source familiar with the decision.
These are, of course, the death cries of the company, which had hitherto been muffled with yards of duct tape bearing Management and UAW fingerprints. This is the end. Can we please stop sending money now?
Pontiac: End of the road [CNN.com]
Have we really reached the point of unadulterated fantasy such that anyone still thinks GM is going to avoid not just bankruptcy but an ugly and protracted bankruptcy? Seriously, how much longer is the investing public going to tolerate C-Level executives who are either so out-to-lunch that they believe their own prattle, or so spun that nothing that escapes their lips has a signal-to-noise ratio that exceeds that of the Pioneer 10 spacecraft?
General Motors Corp Chief Executive Fritz Henderson said on Friday the automaker was readying detailed plans for a bankruptcy filing that now appears more likely even as it races to complete a business plan under federal oversight.
Henderson said GM faced no pressure from the Obama administration’s autos task force to make a decision on whether to file for bankruptcy before an established June 1 deadline and said it was “feasible” that the automaker could still avoid bankruptcy despite the short time frame remaining.
GM readies plans for bankruptcy it hopes to avoid [Reuters]
Maybe it is just us, but there are a number of things that just scream “wishful thinking.” Like the return of Growing Pains to television, a re-do on the OJ Simpson trial, owning your own private island, or a widely successful debt-for-equity swap at General Motors.
General Motors Corp. is planning to make a formal offer to all bondholders by April 27 to exchange their $27.5 billion in claims for equity, according to a person with knowledge of the discussions.
Yes, we know, we know, the administration wants 66% of the original bonds whacked out via such a swap so their fantasy of a “surgical bankruptcy” can be realized (where “surgical bankruptcy” means “fail to piss off the UAW too badly”) but no one seems very likely to want to make nice-nice with this administration in a case like this (when being “nice” means giving up cash). This hasn’t stopped the administration from trying, though the latest efforts (concentrating on how bad it would be for Detroit if the bankruptcy turns out as anything but a blistering bit of unexpected caning for bondholders) seem a little familiar to us. Familiar sort of like the guilt trip your mother used to play on you when you were twelve. Or certain 1970s public service announcements.
GM Said to Plan All-Equity Offer for Bondholders [Bloomberg]
So unless you just crawled out of bed still in your Greenspan Underoos because you no longer have an office to go to, you probably know that General Motors is looking at a 2008 loss of $31 billion. Don’t worry though, because this is about what we expected.
Perhaps it is our cynical side, but does anyone really believe that these firms are going to be anything but a huge gravity well for cash for the next 20 years? In all seriousness, under what scenario is it possible to imagine that anything resembling General Motors can even arguably make back a fraction of what has been and will be dumped into it in the next five years?
In 2006, Nissan- the best of the Japanese manufacturers that year on this metric- pulled in about $2,100 in profit per car (Honda and Toyota were in the $1,200 – $1,500 range). Assuming General Motors could manage to recover Nissan’s margin (and this is Disneyland levels of fantasy) they would have to push over 14 million vehicles out the door just to cover the 2008 loss. For perspective, GM sold about 8.3 million vehicles in 2008 with more than a dozen brands, and not only have they been forced to cut capacity and brands, but demand might not even get that good again.
Ok, that’s probably not a fair analysis, since the $31 billion is sunk cost. Surely, we aren’t going to have to dump that much money into GM again… right? Ok, what about the $12 billion in underfunded pension liabilities yet to come? The $[whatever] billion in cash they are about to ask for? The however much they burn through in the next five years?
It might be time for GM to punt.
General Motors Corp posted a nearly $31 billion loss on Thursday for 2008 and said its auditors were likely to cast doubt on its viability as it seeks an expanded federal bailout to stay afloat.
GM, which asked for up to $30 billion of U.S. government aid, posted losses in all of its major units during the fourth quarter and it burned through $6.2 billion of cash. Revenue plunged by more than a third.
GM posts massive loss, auditor may question viability [Reuters]