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New York (United States) (AFP) – U.S. auto giant General Motors reported a 53 percent drop in quarterly earnings Wednesday due to higher taxes and equity buybacks, even as revenues rose nearly four percent.

Earnings for the quarter ended September 30 came in at $698 million on revenues of $39.0 billion, compared with $1.5 billion in profits on revenues of $37.6 billion a year ago.

GM said it achieved operating-performance improvements during the quarter, but results were hit by $1.0 billion on preferred stock buybacks and dividends and an $842 million income tax expense, up from $357 million in the 2012 quarter.

The combination of buybacks and higher taxes trimmed 51 cents per share from earnings.

Excluding those two items, GM came in at 96 cents per share, above the 93 cents forecast by analysts. Revenues came in slightly below the $39.49 billion forecast.

Overall car sales rose to 2.4 million, compared with 2.3 million during the same period last year.

“We made gains in the third quarter as we improved our North American margins and increased our global share on the strength of our Chevrolet brand,” said GM chief executive Dan Akerson.

“Our efforts to build great cars and trucks and deliver solid financial results were recognized this quarter by Moody’s investment grade rating.”

GM’s operating earnings rose a mighty 28 percent in North America to $2.2 billion. Results were also better in South America and Europe, where the operating loss dipped to $214 million from $487 million.

But GM’s international division overall achieved just $299 million in operating earnings, down from $761 million in the year-ago period.

AFP Photo/Sam Panthaky

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