Since the pandemic began two years ago, and General Motors (NYSE:GM) stock dumped its dividend, the stock is up by 42%. That’s better than the average S&P stock.
But it hasn’t been a smooth ride. At one point in 2020, GM stock traded at under $20/share. At the start of 2022 GM stock was over $65/share.
GM’s efforts to follow Tesla continue, despite shipping just 26 electric cars in the fourth quarter. It’s still planning a $7 billion electric vehicle factory. CEO Mary Barra has ridden in an autonomous Chevrolet.
But Wall Street is running out of patience.
Mary Barra Still Has Big Plans
GM stock isn’t just losing to Tesla. It’s also losing to Ford Motor (NYSE:F), which has nearly matched it in market cap.
The reason: electric cars. Ford delivered 8,300 Mustang Mach-Es in the fourth quarter. Its electric F-150 will hit dealers a year ahead of GM’s electric Silverado.
While Ford is just making electric versions of its best-sellers, GM CEO Mary Barra is a planner. She’s signing deals to buy battery components. She’s building a common platform for electrics called Ultium .
During the January earnings call, Barra promised higher profits this year despite the big investment in electrics. She plans to sell 400,000 electrics in 2023, and increase overall production this year by 20%-25%.
The trouble is investors are tired of plans. They want performance.
Investors didn’t like the 2021 reports on either Ford or GM. Since the start of 2022 both stocks are down about 14%. It’s a show-me market. Don’t tell me what you’re going to do, show me what you have done.
The headlines from General Motors in 2022 are all about its links to the past.
General Motors’ dealer network continues to cause trouble, charging more than the sticker price for hard-to-stock vehicles. The company is now getting pushback on efforts to win state government subsidies, critics saying it will mean fewer jobs.
Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) analyst Adam Jonas has cut his rating on GM, dropping his price target to $55/share from $75. He’s not alone. Of 15 analysts covering GM at Tipranks, 5 now have it in the weak “hold” column.
The Bottom Line
I want to root for GM. But Elon Musk was right. It’s easier to build a new company from scratch than to turn an old one around. Companies that make electric, self-driving cars really are technology companies, not manufacturers.
GM is a manufacturer. Even if all CEO Barra’s plans work out, it will still be a manufacturer. It will still have a dealer network, and a supply chain it can’t fully control. It will still have millions of gas-powered vehicles on the road, for which it will have to take responsibility.
For these reasons I can’t recommend you to buy GM stock. Root for it, as you might root for the Detroit Lions. Just realize you’re unlikely to make the Super Bowl any time soon.
On the date of publication, Dana Blankenhorn held no position in any stock mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.
Dana Blankenhorn has been a financial and technology journalist since 1978. He is the author of Technology’s Big Bang: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow with Moore’s Law, available at the Amazon Kindle store. Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet him at @danablankenhorn, or subscribe to his Substack.