Paper Profits

GM sets a new sales record, but it's not in the showroom

SOMETIMES IT'S A LOT EASIER TO SELL STOCK THAN motorcars. On the eve of its annual meeting last week in Fort Wayne, Ind., General Motors completed the largest new offering by a U.S. company, a worldwide sale of 55 million shares that will bring in more than $2.1 billion -- the equivalent of selling more than 131,000 cars and trucks. It was the fourth time this year that G.M. has gone into the public financial markets for a total of $5.3 billion, still well below the $7.09 billion the automotive giant lost in the North American market last year.

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