GM gets investment grade rating from Fitch
General Motors Co. said Thursday that the automaker and its GM Financial subsidiary have achieved investment-grade credit rating from Fitch Ratings, the last major rating agency to boost GM’s overall credit rating.
Fitch said GM has strong liquidity and it expects the company to reach 10 percent adjusted margins in North America next year and to “approach” GM’s break-even target in Europe next year, despite issues in Russia. GM has said it will be profitable in Europe in 2016, even after it has opted to largely pull out of Russia.
“The upgrade of GM’s ratings reflects the ongoing fundamental improvement in the company’s core business over the past several years,” the agency said. “At the same time, recent events pertaining to last year's recalls have given Fitch increased confidence that the company has the financial flexibility to navigate the remaining issues while maintaining an investment-grade credit profile.”
In September 2013, Moody’s Investors Service upgraded the automaker’s credit rating to investment grade; it was the first time since May 2005 that any of the major ratings houses had given GM’s credit rating better than junk status. Standard & Poor’s Rating Services upgraded GM and GM Financial to investment grade in September 2014.
“Fitch’s news today confirms that we are delivering on our commitment to generate strong operating results and implement our customer-focused strategy,” GM CEO Mary Barra said in a statement. “But, as much as we like this recognition, we are focused on achieving even stronger performance and enhancing long-term shareholder value in the years to come.”
GM stock was trading up more than 1.5 percent Thursday afternoon, at about $36.40 a share.
The automaker is subject to a criminal investigation over its delayed ignition switch recall and Fitch said it expects GM eventually will have to pay a fine in the $1 billion to $2 billion range or possibly higher.
Fitch said GM’s $20 billion minimum automotive cash target will give it “sufficient financial flexibility in the case of a large fine without jeopardizing its ratings.”
Fitch assigned GM corporate and GM Financial BBB- credit ratings with a stable outlook. They are each one level higher than credit ratings assigned in 2012 and 2013.