Ford Motor Co. (NYSE:F) beat analysts’ earnings expectations for its fourth quarter and 2012 earnings, but the No. 2 U.S. automaker warned of bigger losses in the struggling European market and forecast weak sales in South America.

That forecast sent shares of the No. 2 carmaker falling as much as 6 percent Tuesday before recovering slightly at midday to $12.99, down 79 cents.

Ford's operating profit was 31 cents a share on revenue of $36.5 billion, which largely came from U.S. sales. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected earnings of only 25 cents a share.

For the full year, the Dearborn, Mich.-based auto giant reported $1.41 a share of operating profit on revenue of $134.3 billion, beating the $1.35 a share forecast on an estimated $125 billion of revenue.

“The Ford team delivered strong results once again, underscoring that our 'One Ford' plan is working,” said Allan Mulally, Ford's CEO. "One Ford" is the company’s ongoing restructuring plan aimed at lowering production costs. For example, the company is moving away from creating different versions of the same model to sell in different global markets.

But the company lost $1.75 billion in Europe last year, more than the expected $1.5 billion. Sales in Latin America are expected to be “breakeven” in 2013, executives said.

“In addition, government actions to incentivize local production and balance trade are driving trade frictions between South American countries and also with Mexico, resulting in business environment instability and new trade barriers,” the company said in a statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.