Nightly News | February 16, 2012
>>> good evening. after something of a near-death experience, a huge government bailout and a lot of hard work, general motors , that thoroughly american brand name is tonight reporting its largest ever profit for the last year, $7.6 billion. this joined some other good news out today on jobs and housing, and it means a big turnaround for some valuable real estate in terms of american manufacturing. we begin tonight with phil lebeau of cnbc with us from gm headquarters in detroit .
>> reporter: good evening, brian. with strong sales in the u.s. and china, the 103-year-old automaker reported strong profits today and reclaimed the child of world's largest automaker from toyota. it hasn't always been an easy ride. it's a day few at general motors could have imagined two years ago. the world's largest automaker announced its most profitable year ever. for dave grave who works the new third shift at gm's plant in flint, michigan, the record earnings not only mean job security , but he and every other auto worker at gm will also get bonus checks of up to $7,000.
>> thanks to the government for saving the auto industry and hundreds of thousands of jobs, uaw and general motors , we've got another chance.
>> reporter: gm's second chance came two years ago when the automaker drowning in debt was forced to reorganize.
>> tonight general motors filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection .
>> reporter: backed by $49.5 billion from the federal government , gm closed 14 plants, cut 12,000 jobs and shed well-known brands like pontiac, saab and hummer, eventually profits came back. thanks in part to soaring sales in china where buick is wildly popular. in the u.s., gm's business has rebounded due to a healthier economy, and a revamped lineup featuring something gm struggled to sell in the past, small and mid-size cars.
>> we are beginning to see some of the benefits and impacts of the lot of the actions we are taking. this is a long-term gain.
>> reporter: the challenge is to stay profitable. just three years ago, detroit 's automakers lost a combined $62 billion. by 2011 after massive cuts, they rebounded to a combined profit of nearly $14 billion.
>> detroit is operating much more like the rest of industrial america, much more rational about pricing production decisions. will this last forever? we'll see.
>> reporter: after posting record annual profits, shares of general motors surged almost 6% today. a lot of investors moving into the stock. that's good news for the federal government which still owns 26.5% of general motors stock. they've got a long ways to go to recoup all the bailout money. that stock price would have to double before the government is made whole.
>> phil lebeau from gm headquarters in detroit . thanks.