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.

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.

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.