General Motors last year posted its first annual profit since...

General Motors last year posted its first annual profit since 2004. Credit: AFP/Getty Images

In an impressive comeback from bankruptcy, General Motors last year posted its first annual profit since 2004.

GM's net income totaled $4.7 billion last year, fueled by strong U.S. and China sales as the global auto market began to recover, the automaker reported Thursday. It earned $2.89 per share on revenue of $135.6 billion.

It was the company's best performance since earning $6 billion in 1999 during the height of the pickup truck and sport utility vehicle sales boom.

The performance, while beating Wall Street expectations, didn't help GM's stock price, which fell more than 4 percent Thursday to close at $33.02, just above November's initial public offering price of $33 per share.

David Whiston, an auto analyst with Morningstar, said fears about the impact of $4- per-gallon gasoline on a company traditionally known for selling SUVs and trucks and talk of GM's aging model lineup are possible reasons.

Still, GM's full-year profit is remarkable considering that from 2004 through 2009, GM was in a state of perpetual restructuring, trying to downsize its workforce and shrink factory capacity to match falling demand for its vehicles. The company lost more than $80 billion during the period and almost ran out of cash in 2008, when the government began a bailout that eventually reached $49.5 billion.

"Last year was one of foundation building," chairman and chief executive Dan Akerson said yesterday.

For the fourth quarter, GM reported net income of $510 million, or 31 cents per share, its lowest quarterly profit of the year. Revenue for the quarter totaled $36.9 billion, also beating analysts' estimates of $34.3 billion.

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