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beat analysts' quarterly estimates, a result of strong U.S. sales that overcame the adverse impact of slumping Europe sales and lower profits in South America.

The automaker reported third-quarter net income of $1.6 billion, or 41 cents a share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had estimated 30 cents. Revenue fell 3% to $32.1 billion. Analysts had estimated $30.9 billion.

Net income fell by 1% as Ford lost $468 million in Europe and South America profits sagged. But the company said its third-quarter pretax profit of $2.2 billion, or 40 cents a share, represented its best third quarter ever. Ford North America reported its highest quarterly profit and operating margin since 2000, when the company began to report the region as a separate business unit. The unit had a pretax profit of $2.3 billion and a 12% operating margin.

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Looking ahead, Ford said it expects to report a strong pretax profit.

"The Ford team delivered a best-ever third quarter, driven by record results in North America and the continued strength of Ford Credit," said CEO Alan Mulally, in a prepared statement. "While we are facing near-term challenges in Europe, we are fully committed to transforming our business in Europe by moving decisively to match production to demand, improve revenue through new products and a stronger brand, improve our cost efficiencies and take advantage of opportunities to profitably grow our business."

The loss in Europe exceeded the year-earlier loss of $306 million in the region. In South America, Ford's pretax profit fell to $9 million from $276 million a year earlier. The South America results reflected unfavorable exchange, mainly due to a weaker Brazilian real, unfavorable volume due to the launch of new products and production decliens in Venezuela related to currency restrictions, constraints on pricing due to more intense competition and higher costs.

But Asia Pacific pretax profit was $45 million, compared with a loss of $43 million a year earlier. In financial services, the loss was $5 million compared with a gain of $24 million a year earlier.

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-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.

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Ted Reed