Excluding one-time items, GM made 67 cents per share. But analysts polled by FactSet expected 88 cents on revenue of $40.8 billion. Those items included $200 million in restructuring costs, in large part, related to the exit of the Chevrolet brand from Europe.
For the year, GM's earnings fell 22 percent to $3.8 billion or $2.38 per share. Without one-time items it earned $3.18 per share.
GM also announced that 48,500 U.S. hourly workers will get up to $7,500 in profit-sharing checks.
(Read more: GM's new CEO not immune to gender pay gap)
In Europe, GM shrunk its loss by more than half to $345 million. Analysts had expected red ink of $399 million. Stevens said the automaker is fully committed to its mid-decade goal of breaking even there.
"We really got significant traction on the cost side of the business" in Europe, he added. "On the market ... we grew share for Opel-Vauxhall for the first time in 14 years. We had improved revenue in the second half of the year."
Stevens said a buildup in inventory can be partly blamed on bad weather curtailing sales. North American inventory has grown to 111 days, higher than many people were expecting.
Last month in a "Squawk Box" appearance, AutoNation Chairman and CEO Mike Jackson warned automakers to watch their inventory levels.
(Read more: No reason to panic about January auto sales)
The GM CFO said he sees a selling rate of 16 million to 16.5 million units for the industry in 2014.
—By CNBC's Matthew J. Belvedere. Follow him on Twitter
@Matt_SquawkCNBC. Wire services contributed to this article.