If you think of Detroit, you think of cars. And when you think of cars, you think of General Motors (NYSE:GM).
It all started back 1908, when William “Billy” Durant launched General Motors in Flint, Mich. At the time, he was a top manufacturer of horse-drawn vehicles, but he saw a huge opportunity in gas-powered cars. And his vision was correct.
To dominate the market, Durant bought brands like Oldsmobile, Cadillac and Pontiac, and the strategy worked extremely well as GM soon dislodged Ford (NYSE:F) as the top automaker.
Unfortunately, GM eventually would falter — especially in terms of the quality of its vehicles. By 2009, the company filed for bankruptcy and had to take a federal bailout of $50 billion.
Since then, though, GM has gone on to restructure its operations and get back to creating top-quality cars. The company now does about $150 billion in revenues, good for total earnings of about $9 billion in the most recent fiscal year. And with tens of billions in cash and marketable securities, there’s quite a strong buffer in case of another recession.
GM also has been investing in next-generation vehicles. For example, it has been bringing up the Volt, which is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle — a good example of how GM is looking toward the long term, despite the fact that sales have been less than expected of late.
Interestingly enough, GM also has caught the attention of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A, BRK.B). His firm recently purchased 10 million shares of the company — another sign the automaker is back on top.
And while the company isn’t shy about going overseas — General Motors ranks second in global sales — there’s no doubt GM is American, with 79,000 employees and 41 manufacturing facilities across the country.
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Tom Taulli runs the InvestorPlace blog IPOPlaybook, a site dedicated to the hottest news and rumors about initial public offerings. He also is the author of “All About Short Selling” and “All About Commodities.” Follow him on Twitter at @ttaulli. As of this writing, he did not own a position in any of the aforementioned securities.