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(Detroit Free Press) — General Motors made $1 billion in the first quarter, beating analysts’ expectations before being dragged down by a special accounting-related $590-million charge in struggling Europe.

“This management team is not getting ahead of ourselves,” CEO Dan Akerson told financial analysts today on a conference call. “We’re not immune to the industry issues like recession or overcapacity in Europe or competition that’s intensifying everywhere we do business. Every day we keep our teams focused on these cold, hard facts.”

A $1.7-billion profit in North America, up 35%, powered the earnings — good news for next year’s profit-sharing payout for UAW workers. But GM warned it didn’t expect to repeat last spring and summer’s uptick in North American profits due to scheduled plant downtime ahead of the 2013 launch of the new Chevy Silverado.

The overall profit was GM’s ninth straight, adding to its longest string of quarters in the black since early last decade. The automaker is seeking to build on restructuring that followed $82 billion in losses in the four years before its 2009 bankruptcy. But the European region has remained a persistent problem.

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