DETROIT – General Motors CEO Mary Barra and other executives will detail plans to significantly expand and diversify the company’s revenue and earnings during a highly anticipated investor event this week in Detroit.
Future growth is a main focus of the event where executives will disclose specific targets regarding revenue, profit margins and the outlook on total market size for early expansion businesses, like self-driving taxis, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named because the plans haven’t been made public.
GM’s revenue last year was nearly $122.5 billion, down 10.8% compared with 2019 thanks largely to factory shutdowns at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. It still made $6.4 billion in net income for the year while its adjusted operating profit was $9.7 billion, or $4.90 a share, in 2020.
Aside from financial targets, GM executives will discuss the company’s plans to move from a traditional automaker focused on costs to a “platform company” that generates new revenue through software, core technologies and additional business lines such as OnStar and its EV commercial start-up BrightDrop, according to the people.
Barra and other executives have been laying the groundwork for the event for much of this year after expanding the company’s operations beyond simply producing cars and trucks.
“I can’t wait to be able to just lay out the complete growth strategy that General Motors has,” Barra said during a Credit Suisse investor event in June. “We’ve talked about a lot of pieces but be able to get back to being face to face and really show it and have the investors meet the teams that are doing it, I think will be key.”
Executives also are expected to more deeply discuss the company’s product transition from an automaker heavily reliant on vehicles with internal combustion engines to exclusively offering electric cars and trucks by 2035. That will include more information on the company’s plans to invest $35 billion in electric and autonomous vehicles by 2025, according to the people.
Dan Ammann, CEO of GM’s majority-owned autonomous vehicle subsidiary Cruise, will tell investors that it sees a path for its ride-hailing business to reach $50 billion in revenue as it ramps up operations.
It is not expected to detail a timeline to hit such a milestone, but how it can scale up as fast, if not faster, than other transformative businesses, according to a person familiar with the plans, which were reported earlier by Bloomberg.
Cruise is expected to start charging for rides as soon as next year pending approval from California regulators, the source confirmed.
About 100 investors are expected to attend GM’s investor event. Executives will focus on presentations at its design and technical campus on Wednesday, followed by a day at GM’s Milford Proving Grounds for experiencing new products and technologies Thursday.
GM CFO Paul Jacobson has said details released at the event, including long-term financial objectives, are meant to inform investors on its baseline targets and plans for the coming years.
“We’ve kind of really plowed deep into our long-term plans and looking at longer-term financial model,” Jacobson said last month during a discussion with RBC Capital Markets. “And there’s some exciting things out there about growth initiatives and opportunities and what the industry looks like. And we’re going to go into some of those details quite a bit at investor day going forward.”
The investor event overall is expected to provide a “clear strategy” in an effort to increase the company’s valuation to be more like a technology company, much like Tesla is at more than $750 billion. GM’s market cap is about $79 billion.
GM’s stock this year is up by about 30% to $53.98 as of Monday’s close. It has gained roughly 80% over the last year.
Engine No. 1
The stock was up by as much as 4.7% on Monday after upstart activist investment firm Engine No. 1 said it has taken a stake in GM. Engine No. 1 founder Chris James believes the company’s stock could triple in the next five years.
“We think that this can become a growth company again … we think this stock could triple over the next five years,” James said Monday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”
Engine No. 1 rose to prominence after waging a successful campaign against Exxon. But the firm’s investment in GM is stamp of approval rather than a more traditional activist investor approach, James said.
“We think this is a real opportunity for people to pay attention and look how a company can disrupt itself in an industry going through transition,” he said. “General Motors is unique in that we think they’re doing the right things.”