GM stock rising after Berkshire reports investment

GM stock rising after Berkshire reports investment
Tim Higgins
Automotive News | May 15, 2012 – 5:04 pm EST
UPDATED: 5/16/12 12:11 pm ET – updated with stock trading

DETROIT (Bloomberg) — General Motors Co. stock gained as much as 4.3 percent, the most in almost a month, after Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. disclosed it bought a stake in the automaker.

As of 12:10 pm EDT, GM gained 3.5 percent to $22.17 a share after earlier reaching $22.35.

The Buffett-led company held 10 million shares of the automaker on March 31, Omaha, Neb.-based Berkshire said in a filing disclosing U.S. stockholdings after the close of regular trading on Tuesday.

“Seems like GM’s low valuation is just too good for Warren to resist,” Adam Jonas, an analyst with Morgan Stanley, wrote in a note to investors. “While buying 10 million shares of GM isn’t a huge bet (yet), the market signal for the U.S. auto industry is as unprecedented as it is fascinating.” Jonas titled the report “Buffett Motors.”

The automaker’s shares dropped 35 percent before today since GM’s 2010 initial public offering. The company regained its spot as the world’s top-selling automaker last year when it posted a record $9.19 billion profit.

GM is benefiting from a recovering U.S. auto market, on pace for its best vehicle sales since 2007, and growth in China, where it’s the market leader. CEO Dan Akerson has introduced models such as the Sonic small car and ATS luxury sedan to push Chevrolet and Cadillac as global brands.

“GM has a lot of good product in the showroom and product coming in 2013,” said David Kudla, who manages about $1 billion as CEO of Mainstay Capital Management. “When we look at the economy, at the fundamentals of the industry and the company, the stock’s a buy.”

Pent-up demand

Americans put off purchases of new cars and trucks during the recession, sending the average age of vehicles on U.S. roads to a record high of 10.8 years, according to researcher R.L. Polk & Co., based in suburban Detroit.

“There’s a pent-up demand for cars in this country, because of the financial crisis,” David Kass, a professor at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, said Tuesday in a phone interview. Buffett’s stock pickers “had an opportunity to buy at an attractive price, well below the initial public offering price,” he said.

Jim Cain, a GM spokesman, said the automaker doesn’t comment on investors buying or selling its shares.

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