General Motors

(GM) - Get Report

reported third-quarter earnings that fell 5.5% from last year's figures but topped analysts' estimates by a penny.

The world's largest auto maker, citing a price war in the U.K. market, said a $181 million loss in Europe caused third-quarter earnings to fall to $829 million from $877 million.

However, earnings per share rose to $1.55, due mostly to ongoing stock repurchases, from $1.33 in the year-earlier period. A

First Call/Thomson Financial

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poll of 18 analysts expected the company to earn $1.54 a share in the third quarter.

Revenue fell to $42.61 billion from $42.79 billion a year earlier. Earnings from the latest quarter include worldwide automotive operations, which fell to $568 million from $613 million.

The $181 million loss in Europe offset a rise in North American automotive profits to $728 million from $671 million, where improvements in material and manufacturing costs more than offset slipping market share, higher incentives and marketing costs. GM's Asia-Pacific automotive operations reported a loss of $10 million, down from a loss of $54 million a year earlier. Operations in Latin America/Africa/Mideast posted a profit of $31 million for the third quarter, compared with a year-earlier loss of $36 million.

Losses from GM's

Hughes Electronics

(GMH)

unit widened to $88 million from $30 million last year.