Stock Rising

GM closed at a record high of $40.90 yesterday. The automaker’s shares soared 42 percent this year through yesterday, outpacing the 27 percent gain of the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

GM is being helped by having some of its best products in a generation, bringing out 18 new or refreshed cars and trucks this year and 14 next year. It’s part of GM’s effort to transform its lineup into one of the industry’s newest from among the oldest.

Those new products are winning some rave reviews. The Chevrolet Impala was the first U.S. car chosen as the best sedan on the market by Consumer Reports, a first in at least 20 years, and the Cadillac CTS was picked as Motor Trend’s car of the year.

This year has included many milestones for GM: It was returned to investment-grade status by Moody’s Investors Service in September after losing it eight years ago; it returned to the S&P 500 after being booted off on the eve of bankruptcy.

Improving Quality

The automaker also led one of the industry’s most closely watched new-car quality measures in June when J.D. Power & Associates said GM topped the consultant’s Initial Quality Study. That was a first for GM in the study’s 27-year history.

GM has said that the Government Motors tag repelled some customers.

“This has been a long, hard road,” Mark Reuss, president of GM North America, told reporters yesterday before the Treasury’s announcement. The benefit from shedding government ownership could come immediately, he said. “I think probably some people will begin to consider us right away, maybe the next day.”

The successes come after five tense years that were filled with uncertainty and change for GM.