Uncle Sam's GM Pump and Dump Scheme A Success

Whenever someone tells you the government is completely incompetent, you can now say that at least Uncle Sam is good at pump and dump stock schemes. Case in point: GM's much promoted IPO. For the past 3-4 weeks, there have been TV specials about how GM was back and going to make a great investment. Analysts provided the necessary research to support bogus price targets which encouraged people to buy the stock on the first day of trading. Even MorningStar was part of the con, placing a $46 price target on GM. The timing of the IPO came during a market correction which made it somewhat more difficult, but the government had a contingency plan. Suddenly and for no good reason, stock futures gap higher in the pre-market (the ramp began last night in Asia) to get those animal spirits roaring and, voila, you get to sell GM stock at $33,above estimates of $26-29. Those poor fools who were rushing in to buy at the open for $35 already have a nice loss as GM closed at $34.19. Bravo, Uncle Sam, bravo. It was a classic pump and dump scheme that went off without a hitch.

Regarding the outlook for GM, this is what Bill Visnic, a senior analyst at Edmunds AutoObserver.com had to say:
"In this business, consistency counts and for GM, consistency has never been a strong suit."

"Now that they've done the balance sheet dance and the Wall Street tango ... we get to see if they've got what it takes to make a go of it from an operational standpoint," he said.

"GM has done this before, where they've had a string of successful products and then backslid, where everything for several years was crap," he said. "In this business, you just can't do that."

Finally, I can think of a few reasons why GM is not a good investment:
  • Even after the IPO, the government will still control GM with a 33% stake. Political considerations will still triumph over economics. Think electric cars like the VOLT that have minuscule profit margins compared to SUV's and trucks.  
  • The UAW is a substantial holder of stock (17.5% before the IPO) and will likely try to claw back benefits lost in the bankruptcy. Most of GM's revival has been due to cutting costs to make them more competitive. Pressure from the UAW and government could force GM to increase benefits and wages.  
  • The company has accounting problems. Some keen observers have accused GM of channel stuffing their inventory to boost revenue. The chart below shows GM's dealer inventory. It is curious that despite GM reducing the number of brands it sells, inventory has continued to climb and is at record levels. This channel stuffing could be the reason GM has reported strong numbers in 2010. 
  • GM has been down this road before. The company has been in a long term decline, notwithstanding a few hit models which temporarily boosted their market share. Just when you think the company is turning the corner, it falters.

Black Swan Insights



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