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The Boston Globe

Business

Weaker Asian results crimp profit at GM

DETROIT — Just as General Motors is getting a handle on its troubles in Europe, the automaker faces a new challenge in another part of the globe.

GM says Japanese automakers are using the weak yen to cut prices in Southeast Asia and Australia, taking a bite out of GM’s profits there. Sales tailed off in India as well.

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A subpar second-quarter performance in the company’s international operations division pulled GM’s overall profit down 16 percent from last year, offsetting gains in North America and a stark improvement in Europe.

The company’s shares fell 27 cents, or less than 1 percent, to $36.88 in afternoon trading.

The Detroit automaker earned $1.26 billion from April through June, or 75 cents per share. That’s down from $1.5 billion, or 90 cents per share, a year ago.

Still, GM handily beat Wall Street predictions when one-time items were excluded. On that basis, GM earned 84 cents per share in the quarter, nine cents better than the forecast of analysts surveyed by FactSet.

In North America, strong sales of pickup trucks drove pretax profit up 4 percent to $1.98 billion.

US sales of big pickups boomed in the first half, rising 23 percent as the housing industry started to recover from the recession and small businesses started buying again. At GM, Silverado sales gained 26 percent and Sierra sales rose 21, helping North American profits.

Pickups are GM’s top-selling vehicles, and they bring in an estimated profit of $10,000 apiece.

Chief financial officer Dan Ammann said he expected improved performance in the second half as GM gets the full benefit of rolling out the new trucks, as well as the 2014 Chevy Corvette sports car, an all-new Cadillac CTS sedan and other new models.

But Ammann also described headwinds in Asia-Pacific countries outside of China. He said Japanese rivals used a weaker yen to cut prices, forcing GM to respond in kind and lowering its profits.

Although pretax income rose in China, GM’s International Operations profit fell by $400 million to $228 million.

The Japanese yen has been falling against other currencies, making goods from Japan less expensive in other countries. Ammann said Japanese automakers supply much of the Asia-Pacific region from Japan.

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