Updated from 3:46 p.m. EDT

Shares of

Ford

(F) - Get Report

were trading slightly higher Wednesday afternoon rising on the company's report that new auto sales had driven second-quarter operating earnings past Wall Street estimates.

Ford's net income for the quarter was $2.7 billion, or $2.20 a diluted share, vs. 1999 second-quarter results of $2.48 billion, or $2.00 a diluted share. Analysts polled by

First Call/Thomson Financial

had forecast, on average, $1.95 a share.

Ford finished Wednesday regular trading up 1/2, or 1.1%, at 47 7/16.

Second-quarter 2000 revenues for Dearborn, Mich.-based Ford were $44.5 billion, up 6% from $41.9 billion in the year-ago period.

After taxes, Ford posted one-time charges totaling $3.3 billion, resulting in an after-tax net loss of $577 million, or 47 cents per share. The company lost $1 billion in association with European moves announced in May. These include 1,400 job cuts in its Dagenham, England plant, a possible joint venture with German transmission firm

Getrag

and a $3 billion investment over five years in its U.K. operations. The June spinoff of

Visteon

resulted in a deduction of 83 cents a share, or $2.3 billion. Visteon's second-quarter earnings were reported separately Tuesday and are included in Ford's overall results as a discontinued operation but excluded from the company's overall results.

Ford's automotive operations remained robust at home but were feeble abroad.

Worldwide, automotive earnings were up 15% to $2.1 billion on a revenue rise of 5% to $37.4 billion.

Operations in North America accounted for a whopping 85% of profits, earning $1.8 billion in the second quarter of 2000 and up $128 million, or 7%, from the year-ago period. Despite high gas prices and an industry slowdown in U.S. sales, the company sustained domestic sales of the trucks and sport utility vehicles that make most of Ford¿s margins, especially the Ford F-Series, Explorer and Expedition. Ford also saw strong sales of certain car models, notably the Ford Focus compact and the Taurus sedan, and demand continued for the Lincoln LS, Jaguar S-Type, Volvo S40 and Volvo V70

Meanwhile, earnings from overseas operations, although they almost tripled, contributed a mere 13% to Ford's $2.1 billion in automotive income. Profits from Ford's operations in Europe, South America and Asia-Pacific totaled $228 million, up $147 million from the second-quarter of 1999.

Europe's earnings, in particular, were $156 million, down almost one-fourth from $206 million a year ago. There, Ford faces fiercer competition.

Argus Research

analyst James Kelleher noted that while the U.S. car market has three main players and a number of smaller ones, the European car market features at least six major contenders.

According to Kelleher, Ford's European operation should exploit the strength of its premier autos, such as the Lincoln, Aston Martin, Jaguar, Volvo and, pending the completion of a deal announced in May,

BMW AG's

Land Rover. Kelleher has a hold rating on Ford.

Citing smaller Ford vehicles lately market in Europe, including the Focus, Mondo, Galaxy, Maverick and Fiesta, Kelleher said: "I don't care what Ford does - I don't think they will ever be real money makers for Ford."

Furthermore, Kelleher said, competitor

General Motors

(GM) - Get Report

can perform better in Europe because of its subsidiary

Opel

. No. 1 carmaker in the world, GM , on Tuesday reported

second-quarter profits of nearly $1.8 billion, or $2.93 a diluted share, topping Wall Street estimates and beating last year's figures.

But Ford sees its toughest European competition in

Fiat

,

Volkswagon

and

Renoit

with its hybrid sport utility vehicles.

Ford chief executive officer Jac Nasser said in a statement: ''With our plan in place to improve efficiency, reduce capacity and fixed costs, and accelerate our product offensive with 45 significant new products over the next five years, we are confident our European operations are driving toward sustained profitable growth."

In South America, Ford's operating losses decreased 46%, from $117 million a year ago to $63 million this quarter. Operations in Asia brought in $135 million, compared to a loss of $8 million a year ago.

Ford Credit

earned $388 million in the second quarter, up 16% from last year's results. Ford's share of

Hertz's

(HRZ)

second-quarter earnings was $84 million.