Still, if you invested in GM in 2012 — after the company officially came out of bankruptcy and began recovering from the major financial crisis that hit the auto industry — you would have made a profit, although a small one: According to CNBC calculations, a $1,000 investment made then would be worth just over $1,800 as of March 21, 2019, a total return over 80 percent. In the same time frame, by comparison, the S&P 500 was up more than 100 percent.
Some analysts anticipate problems for the auto industry overall. Per BMW's annual report, "political and economic developments in Europe remain increasingly uncertain," and the "unforeseeable impact of Brexit" could elevate trade tensions with the European Union and China.
CNBC: GM stock as of Mar. 21, 2019
"A possible introduction of further trade barriers … could have a significantly adverse impact on the BMW Group's operations through less favorable conditions for importing vehicles," the report read. "Moreover, countermeasures by the USA's trading partners could slow down global economic growth and have a greater-than-expected adverse impact on the export of vehicles."
In an email to CNBC last month, CFRA analyst Garrett Nelson said, "we are very concerned about GM's worsening vehicle sales trends," which were down more than 13 percent in the fourth quarter, "and the company's exposure to a slowing China market, which we think could challenge the company's ability to hit their full year earnings guidance."
President Donald Trump — who slammed GM in November after it announced plans to cut 14,000 U.S. and Canadian jobs and cancel some of its popular car models — could also impose tariffs on cars imported to the United States, an idea causing further investor anxiety.
At a rally in Ohio on Wednesday, Trump also put pressure on the company to reopen its plant in the state and reverse its plan to invest $2.65 billion in two of its Brazilian plants in Sao Paulo.
There is some good news for the automaker, though. GM's fourth-quarter earnings, released in February, beat Wall Street expectations due to an uptick in truck sales. Cadillac, for example, was "up across the board about 20 percent year over year in 2018 in a declining market environment," Dhivya Suryadevara, GM's chief financial officer, said on CNBC's "Squawk Box." "What we're focused on is what we can execute."
The company plans to add 1,000 workers to build new trucks at its plant in Flint, Michigan, and says it will give priority to former GM employees who were laid off elsewhere. It is also now accepting orders for its electric bicycle and in talks to invest in Tesla rival Rivian.
GM Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra said in a statement that the company "delivered a strong year of earnings in a highly volatile environment in 2018," and it will "make bold decisions to lead the transformation of this industry and drive significant shareholder value."
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