Profitable again! Those will be the words echoing around General Motors’ headquarters and factories as workers arrive after the 8.30am EDT annoucement of first quarter 2010 operating income of US$1.2bn on revenue of $31.5bn, though GM Europe results remained in the red.

Net income attributable to common stockholders was $0.9bn and earnings per share $1.66. The company last booked quarterly profit in 2007.

GM’s first quarter adjusted earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) was $1.7bn after adjusting for the favorable impact of the sale of Saab, the company said in a statement very much abbreviated compare with previous quarters.

GM North America had EBIT in the first quarter 2010 of $1.2bn, up from a loss of $3.4bn in Q4 2009.

But GM Europe booked a loss before interest and taxes of $0.5bn; an improvement of $0.3bn from the fourth quarter. International operations posted EBIT of $1.2bn, up $0.5bn from the fourth quarter.

Cash flow from operating activities was $1.7bn and, after adjusting for capital expenditures of $0.7bn, free cash flow was $1.0bn. GM ended the first quarter with $35.7bn in cash and marketable securities, including funds in escrow.

“We’re pleased with our first quarter performance, in particular achieving profitability,” said Chris Liddell, vice chairman and the new chief financial officer recently joined from Microsoft.

“In North America we are adding production to keep up with strong demand for new products in our four brands. We’re also steadily growing in emerging markets, keeping our costs under control, generating positive cash flow and maintaining a strong balance sheet. These are all important steps as we lay the foundation for a successful GM.”

Earlier preview here