(Bloomberg) -- General Motors Co. expects better profit this year after a strong first quarter, as robust truck sales in the US led the automaker to raise 2024 guidance by $500 million.

GM grew revenue by about $3 billion last quarter, the company said Tuesday, topping Wall Street’s estimates as its average vehicle price held steady with near-record levels a year ago. That helped GM handily beat consensus profit expectations for the quarter.

“Over the last 24 months, we have been growing at an annualized rate of 15%,” GM Chief Financial Officer Paul Jacobson said in a call with media. “That gave us the confidence to raise full-year guidance.”

Its shares rose 4.9% as of 9:31 a.m. in New York, the biggest intraday gain since Jan. 30. GM’s stock gained 20% this year through Monday’s close.

Steady demand for pickup trucks and SUVs in its home market is more than covering up frailties around the globe. GM continues to struggle in China, where domestic competitors have taken share from US and European competitors, and its other global markets earned one-third what they did a year ago.

GM boosted revenue in the quarter to $43 billion, with all of the gain coming in North America. That pushed profits to $2.62 a share, up from $2.21 a year ago and easily beating the $2.12 average of estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

“Overall, the quarter was strong,” Ryan Brinkman, an analyst with JP Morgan Securities, said in a note. GM reported good earnings and cash flow “while at the same time further raising 2024 guidance that was already far above the Street.”

The primary driver was growth in sales of trucks, especially its priciest heavy duty pickups. The Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon mid-sized pickups have sold well and the new version of the truck offers more options and creature comforts than the outgoing generation. GM has also shown renewed success in entry-level SUVs like the Chevrolet Trax.

Some of the growth can be attributed to rebuilding inventory. GM added 77,000 vehicles to its US inventory, up 17% from the end of 2023. Since it books the sale as soon as a car is built, that boosts revenue.

In her letter to shareholders, GM Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra said the company continues to expand production of electric vehicle batteries, which has been slow to ramp up and has stymied sales of its newest EVs. She also said declining raw materials costs is helping profits on those vehicles.

Inventory Target

Jacobson said GM’s inventory is at 63 days worth of supply, which is where they are targeting stock going into the spring selling season. He said GM continues to see strong retail sales for its more expensive models, which helped the first quarter and should keep profits up all year.

GM now expects as much as $14.5 billion in adjusted earnings before interest and taxes this year.

“Our consumers have been remarkably resilient in this high interest rate environment,” Jacobson said. “We think we can continue to perform.”

While the company’s business at home keeps growing, GM struggles internationally. The Detroit-based company lost about $100 million in China, which once accounted for $2 billion a year in profit. GM made money in its other overseas markets, but far less than it did in the same quarter in 2023.

Jacobson said GM expected to lose money in China after taking action to reduce inventory in the quarter. Market share fell from 9.1% to 7.9%. He said performance should improve going forward.

On a conference call with analysts, Barra said the company has two new plug-in hybrids, one from Chevrolet and another from Buick, that can help in China.

“We’re going to be better positioned,” Barra said. “There’s a place for to play and grow share.”

GM is spending less on its Cruise self-driving car unit. The company spent $3.4 billion on it last year before laying off a quarter of the staff and grounding the fleet. The business cost GM $400 million in the quarter, putting it on pace to spend $1.6 billion, which is about what the company had targeted.

Barra said GM may seek outside funding for Cruise.

(Updates with share trading, CEO comments beginning in fourth paragraph.)

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