GM Finally Turns the Corner With Investors
You know this is the kind of quarter General Motors CEO Dan Akerson has been waiting for. The automaker reported better than expected profitability in the U.S. and China and a lower than expected loss in Europe.
(Read More: North America Sales Fuel General Motors Beat)
Akerson is not the type of CEO to sound giddy on earnings conference calls and that didn't change on Thursday. Still, you could sense his pleasure when he opened the call saying, "We are systematically and successfully implementing our plan around the world."
Investors seem to agree. After the opening bell, shares of GM shot up as much as 5 percent to their highest point since July of 2011.
On CNBC's "Squawk on the Street," Jim Cramer was asked about his view of General Motors and he said, "This is a good quarter for GM."
You could almost hear the cheers coming all the way from Detroit. Still, the question remains, has GM turned the corner with investors?
That may sound like an odd question since GM posted a profitable first quarter and hasn't lost money in a quarter since it came out of bankruptcy in 2009. But you wouldn't know that given the way investors and Wall Street have steered clear of GM.
Ever since the GM IPO at $33 in November of 2010 this stock has been criticized.
First, investors blamed the depressed price on the U.S. Treasury Department owning a stake in the automaker. Critics said until Uncle Sam sold its stake in GM it would scare away investors.
Perhaps, there was some validity to that argument since shares of GM have steadily moved higher ever since the Treasury Department said in January that it would systematically sell its shares and be completely out of GM by the middle of next year.
Next, critics of GM said the stock was dead money until GM could clean up its money losing operation in Europe. Now, this argument made sense to me. After all, GM has yet to turn a profit in Europe this century. It is a money pit and I can understand the reluctance of investors to support a company that has talked, and talked, and talked about cutting its losses in Europe only to turn around and report even more losses the following quarter.
(Read More: GM Asks for OK to Pay CEO $11.1 Million)
Europe is the broken record spooking GM investors. The fact that GM reported a smaller than expected loss in that continent during the first quarter is a glimmer of hope for investors.
Now, as GM shares move closer to the initial public offering price, skeptics of the stock are losing their arguments. GM is widely expected to soon be added to the S&P 500 index, which would give the stock a shot in the arm as index fund managers buy the stock to include in their portfolio.
Meanwhile, General Motors is picking up market share in the U.S. and looking to post strong profits for North America. In China, the company is keeping up its investment in new plants and models and shows no sign of slowing down in the world's largest auto market.
—By CNBC's Phil LeBeau; Follow him on Twitter: @Lebeaucarnews