General Motors has said it will make a net profit in the fourth quarter but will delay reporting 2006 financial results because of accounting errors and other issues.

The world's largest automaker said it found tax accounting mistakes from before 2002 that will end up increasing its retained earnings for all subsequent years by anywhere from $450m to $600m, according to the Associated Press (AP).

Chief financial officer Fritz Henderson reportedly said the company cannot yet state the size of its expected fourth-quarter profit, but it would be the auto giant's first quarterly gain since the fourth quarter of 2004, when it made $630m.

GM, which reported losing $US3bn in the first nine months of last year and lost $10.6bn in 2005, also is looking into other accounting problems involving hedging activities, AP said.

The earnings report delays also can be attributed to the company's financial arm, General Motors Acceptance, needing more time to close its books on 2006, Henderson reportedly told analysts during a conference call. GM sold a 51% stake in GMAC to a group of investors for $14bn last year, AP noted.

The report added that the automaker had planned to release quarterly and annual earnings for 2006 on Tuesday, but now has delayed that indefinitely, but still intends to file its annual report with the Securities and Exchange Commission by a 1 March deadline.

GM will have to restate its retained earnings after 2001 because it overstated deferred tax liabilities, Henderson said, according to the Associated Press.