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New York (AFP) – U.S. auto giant Ford Motor Tuesday reported quarterly earnings that bested expectations as higher sales in North America and a smaller loss in Europe offset declines in South America.

Ford, the second-biggest U.S. automaker, notched a 90 percent rise in fourth-quarter earnings thanks largely to a number of tax gains. Revenues rose 3.6 percent compared with the year-ago period.

“We had an outstanding year in 2013, demonstrating that our One Ford plan continues to drive solid results and profitable growth for all,” Ford chief executive Alan Mulally said in a statement.

Ford’s North America division, which accounts for nearly one-third of company sales, reported higher quarterly sales but nine percent lower profits due to lower prices and $300 million in expenses associated with a recall of its Escape sport utility vehicle.

Ford enjoyed higher sales and wholesale deliveries in its Asia Pacific Africa segment, where pre-tax profit hit a record $106 million, about three times more than in the year-ago period.

In Europe, Ford trimmed its quarterly loss to $571 million from $732 million in the year-ago period, while Ford’s South America division posted a loss of $126 million. The South America results were hit by lower production in Venezuela due to a limited availability of U.S. dollars, the company said.

Overall fourth-quarter profit came in at $3.0 billion on revenue of $37.6 billion compared with year-ago profit of $1.6 billion on revenue of $37.6 billion. The results included $2.1 billion in favorable tax items, such as valuation allowances held against U.S. tax-deferred assets.

The results translated into earnings of 31 cents per share, topping analyst expectations of 28 cents.

The company rated 2013 “one of Ford’s best years ever” as Ford and other U.S. automakers benefited from a surge in auto sales.

Net income for the year was $7.2 billion on revenue of $146.9 billion, up 26.3 percent from 2012 profit of $5.7 billion on revenue of $133.6 billion.

Ford said its 2014 outlook was unchanged with total company pre-tax profit expected to range from $7 billion to $8 billion.

Ford shares were up 2.1 percent at $16.04 in pre-market trade.

Photo: Mira Oberman via AFP

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