General Motors and Ford are trying to reassure investors that their sales and profits will keep growing despite a weaker US economy and slower auto sales. Carmakers have been hit with a string of bad news this spring, from the March 11 earthquake in Japan that left dealers short on cars to rising gas prices and unemployment. US auto sales fell in May, their first monthly decline this year. The news has hurt. GM\'s shares have lost almost 13 per cent of their value since selling for $33 (Dh121.21) per share in a public stock sale last November. Ford\'s stock price, meanwhile, has fallen more than 9 per cent since the start of May. On Tuesday, GM\'s chief executive officer Dan Akerson highlighted the company\'s healthier finances at its annual shareholder meeting in Detroit, while Ford unveiled an expansion plan to investors in New York. The message was the same: The companies\' turnarounds remain on track following years of struggle and, for GM, bankruptcy. \"The bankruptcy, as difficult as it was, may have been not only a second chance, but a rebirth of a great 21st century global manufacturing company that is no longer burdened by the past,\" Akerson said. The messages seemed to take. GM shares rose 1 per cent to close at $28.73, while Ford\'s rose slightly to close at $13.95. Jeffries auto analyst H. Peter Nesvold said larger economic worries have been overriding many companies\' performances in recent weeks, including GM and Ford. \"It makes it very difficult for companies [performing] well to get recognition for it,\" he said. Akerson said he isn\'t worried about GM\'s slumping stock price. The company has performed in line with its competitors, all of which have seen stock declines in recent months. Boosting confidence Akerson recently spent $940,000 of his own money to buy 30,000 GM shares, a gesture executives often use to boost confidence in a company. GM has many strengths, he said, including a \"fortress\" balance sheet with $36.5 billion in cash and available liquidity, and only $5 billion in debt. The company\'s senior management team also has the right mix of GM experience and outside perspectives, he said. Shareholders elected all 11 current members of the board and approved Akerson\'s 2010 pay package, which was valued at just over $2.5 million for his four months of work as CEO. Nesvold said Ford had taken a hit from some investors for not presenting a clear plan for growth in emerging markets. Ford tried to reverse that by announcing it will increase global sales by 50 per cent by the middle of this decade, mostly through growth in Asia.