Some of the investors might hold the stock longer because of GM's plans to boost sales by revamping 70 percent of its North American product lineup by the end of 2013, Phillippi said.
"Fit, finish, refinement, fuel economy numbers. It keeps getting better," he said of GM products.
Longer-term, a rising stock price could help the U.S. government recoup the $50 billion it spent bailing out GM in 2008 and 2009. Treasury still holds 500 million shares of GM under that deal, but hasn't sold yet because of the relatively low price. GM stock would have to get to $53 for the government to break even.
GM made $2.5 billion through the first half of the year. But it's predicting lower profits in the second half as losses continue in Europe. Car sales are in their fifth-straight year of decline there, and GM has lost money in Europe for a dozen years. GM posted a $361 million pretax loss in the region in the second quarter. During the third quarter, it warned that it may have to reduce the value of its European operations.
But GM has been taking small steps to fix Europe, including an announcement in August that employees at two German plants would work reduced hours during the next few months.
The fact that something is being done to change Europe is encouraging to investors, who see the company as a good short-term investment, Selesky said.
GM still has problems to deal with elsewhere, including slow growth in China and North America. GM's U.S. sales are lagging behind overall market growth. Through August, U.S. sales grew 3.7 percent over a year earlier, but the whole market grew almost 15 percent.
And if the new products in North America, including important new pickup trucks next year, don't boost GM's sales and market share, that will mean trouble for the stock, Phillippi said.
"If they don't pick up share, people will hammer them," he said.