General Motors Company (NYSE: GM), the largest U.S. automaker, on Wednesday posted a far stronger-than-expected third-quarter profit and said it wants to break even in Europe by mid-decade.

Shares of General Motors Company (NYSE: GM) rose 4.4 percent, or $1.02, to $24.3 in Wednesday’s premarket trading.

Detroit-based GM said it earned $1.5 billion from July through September, down from $1.7 billion a year earlier. Excluding one-time items, GM made 93 cents per share, easily beating Wall Street expectations of 60 cents.

General Motors

An ad for the new Chevrolet Trax SUV by General Motors has been pulled after it was discovered that the advertisements' accompanying music had racially insensitive lyrics toward China and other Asian nations.

Photo: Reuters

Revenue rose to $37.6 billion from $36.7 billion a year ago. Analysts had expected $35.7 billion.

GM lost $478 million in Europe in the third quarter before interest and taxes, from an operating loss of $292 million a year earlier. The automaker projects its struggling European operations will have a deficit of $1.5 billion to $1.8 billion this year, depending on the level of restructuring in the fourth quarter.

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GM also said it is targeting “slightly better” full-year results in Europe in 2013. The company predicted further European losses this year but expects to break even there by mid-decade.

The European sovereign debt crisis, which has caused high unemployment and deep recessions in much of Europe, has sent auto sales in the region to a 20-year low. Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F), the second-largest American carmaker, after GM, reported sharply higher European losses Tuesday, although it was able to report stable company-wide earnings with the help of a record profit in North America.