updated 7/20/2005 9:06:40 AM ET 2005-07-20T13:06:40

General Motors Corp. said Wednesday it lost $286 million in the second quarter, dragged down by a $1 billion-plus loss at its North American automotive operations, and it missed Wall Street’s earnings forecast by a large margin.

The April-June loss for the world’s largest automaker amounted to 51 cents a share, compared with net income of $1.4 billion, or $2.42 a share, a year ago.

Excluding special items, including a $126 million charge for restructuring in Europe, GM reported a loss of $318 million, or 56 cents a share. The consensus among Wall Street analysts polled by Thomson Financial was for second-quarter earnings of 3 cents a share.

Revenue fell to $48.5 billion from $49.3 billion a year ago.

“Our second quarter results reflect a mix of some important pluses and minuses,” said GM chairman and chief executive Rick Wagoner. “On the positive side, sales were up in all regions and global market share increased. ... But, importantly, on the minus side, GM North America’s financial performance continued to be very disappointing.”

GM’s global automotive operations reported a loss of $948 million in the second quarter, as profitable results in Europe, Asia and the Latin America/Mid East region were more than offset by losses in North America, the automaker’s biggest trouble spot.

GM North America lost $1.2 billion, versus earnings of $355 million in the second quarter of 2004. The culprits were lower production to compensate for bloated inventories early in the year, sluggish truck and sport utility vehicle sales and rising health care costs.

On a positive note, GM Europe swung to a profit of $37 million in the second quarter from a loss of $45 million a year ago. It marked that operations’ first profitable quarter in five years.

GM’s finance arm, General Motors Acceptance Corp., again contributed heavily to the bottom line. GMAC posted net income of $816 million, down slightly from $846 million in the year-ago quarter.

For the first half of 2005, GM lost $1.4 billion, or $2.46 a share, versus net income of $2.6 billion, or $4.54 a share, a year ago.

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