The upbeat picture General Motors Corp. executives painted for Wall Street on Thursday is a far cry from a year ago when company leaders were scrambling to explain a disastrous $10.6 billion loss. "2006 needed to be a huge year for us -- and it was," Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner said at the company's annual meeting with analysts in Dearborn. "No one at GM believes that hitting breakeven in North America or making a couple of billion in corporate net income is winning. There is a lot more work to do, but we stand today in a much more favorable position than we did just 12 months ago." GM cut $9 billion in operating costs in 2006, more than the $6 billion initially predicted. It reduced structural costs to between 29 percent and 30 percent of global revenue from 34 percent in 2005. The ultimate goal is to get that number down to 25 percent. In 2007, GM will bank on a new product assault to drive up sales, while increasing capital spending by up to $1 billion this year. The spending increase backs up GM's latest mantra: that cost-cutting won't help unless the company starts turning out more popular and profitable products. The goal is to have newly introduced vehicles account for nearly 40 percent of showroom sales this year as it rolls out products designed to revive its brands and image.
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