General Motors first quarter net profit plunged 69% year on year to US$1.0bn, or $0.60 a share after special items related to goodwill in Europe caused a $0.6bn hit to the bottom line but the unadjusted profit was still better than some analysts expected.

The Q1 2011 profit of $3.2bn included a $1.5bn boost from the sales of Delphi and finance unit Ally.

Excluding the one-off items, GM reported a profit of 93 cents per share compared with the 85 cents consensus of a Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S poll.

First quarter 2012 revenue rose $1.6bn to $37.8bn and adjusted earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) rose $0.2bn to $2.2bn.

North American operations booked EBIT up $0.4bn to $1.7bn after restructuring costs of $0.1bn and GM Europe reported a $0.3bn loss compared with break-even a year ago.

International operations made $0.5bn versus $0.6bn in 2011.

GM described South America's adjusted EBIT-adjusted $0.1bn as "flat compared with the first quarter of 2011".

GM pre-tax profit was up $0.1bn to $0.2bn.

“The US economic recovery, record demand for GM vehicles in China and the global growth of the Chevrolet brand helped deliver solid earnings for General Motors,” said chairman and CEO Dan Akerson in a statement. “New products are starting to make a difference in South America but Europe remains a work in progress. We’ll continue to work on both revenue and cost opportunities until we have [achieved] competitive levels of profitability.”

GM has increased its 2012 US light vehicle sales forecast 500,000 units to 14m-14.5m and said results for the second and third quarters of 2012 "are expected to be comparable to the first quarter of 2012 due to the scheduled downtime at factories that produce full-size trucks".

“We are aggressively eliminating complexity to reduce our costs and, at that same time, are preparing for more than 20 major vehicle launches around the world in 2012 to drive revenue this year and farther into the future,” said CFO Dan Ammann.