General Motors Corp lost $1.10 billion

&to=http:// ' target=_blank>General Motors Corp on Tuesday posted a first-quarter net loss of $1.10 billion, its worst result since the industrial icon skirted bankruptcy in 1992, due to weaker U.S. sales and growing costs for employee health care and raw materials to build cars.

The world's largest automaker, which alarmed the markets last month when it slashed its outlook, said its automotive operations lost $1.98 billion in the quarter, including $1.56 billion in North America alone.

The automaker also withdrew its earnings and cash flow forecast for calendar 2005. Last month, GM cut its outlook for the year to a profit of $1 to $2 per share, and analysts expect GM to earn 61 cents per share this year, according to Reuters.

According to ABC News, the January-March result amounted to a loss of $1.95 per share, compared with earnings of $1.3 billion, or $2.25 a share, in the year-ago quarter, when the company benefited handsomely from its finance arm and improved business in Asia.

It was GM's steepest quarterly loss since the first quarter of 1992, when it reported a $21 billion loss primarily because of changes in accounting procedures for retiree &to=http:// ' target=_blank>health care costs. GM said its revenue in the first quarter fell 4.3 percent to $45.8 billion from $47.8 billion a year ago.

Excluding special charges, GM said first-quarter earnings amounted to a loss of $839 million, or $1.48 a share, compared with net income of $1.2 billion, or $2.12 a share, in the first quarter of 2004.

The most-recent result was in line with Wall Street expectations for a loss of $1.49 per share, according to Thomson Financial. GM warned investors in March its first-quarter earnings would be below previous estimates of break-even or better. It has said it expects income of $1 to $2 per share for the full year, down from a previous guidance of $4 to $5.

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