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GM investors shake off the automaker's Brexit warning

GM had strong performance around the world: CFO

After posting record earnings and setting 19 financial records during the second quarter, General Motors is warning that the U.K.'s decision to exit the European Union could slow down a fledgling recovery in that market during the second half of the year.

Yet that warning did little to cool the enthusiasm of investors, who pushed the company's shares to $32.19, more than 2 percent higher, following its second-quarter earnings report.

Not only did GM's results easily top Wall Street's expectations, but the automaker raised its forecast for the full year, to between $5.50 and $6 a share. That compares with its previous $5.25 to $5.75 a share.

"Prior to the post-Brexit referendum, we were on target to break even for the year," CFO Chuck Stevens told analysts during the company's conference call. "If current post-referendum market conditions are sustained through the remainder of 2016, we believe it could have an impact of $400 million for the second half."

Among the 19 financial records the automaker set during the second quarter were a profit of $3.6 billion in North America, and a profit margin of 12.1 percent in the region. These numbers helped validate the company's strategy of curbing less profitable fleet sales to rental car companies, government agencies and corporations, and instead focusing on more profitable retail sales through auto dealerships.

Meanwhile, the automaker's European operations registered their first quarterly profit in five years.

For CEO Mary Barra, the company's latest figures show what she and her management team can do the farther away they get from a string of issues that dogged them the last two years.

The ignition switch scandal, which cost the company more than $5 billion, is largely in the company's rear-view mirror. Meanwhile, activist investors who led a proxy battle in 2015 have been quieted by the company's recent run of profitable earnings. And finally, there is zero chatter about merging with Fiat Chrysler.

Still, shares of GM are trading slightly below the $33 price at which the stock returned to the public market in November 2010.

When asked if she sees her company's stock as a growth play for investors or more of a value investment given the company's dividend, she said, "I would be very happy if people thought of us delivering both."

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