Keith Naughton
Bloomberg News

General Motors and Ford, struggling to reverse growing losses in Europe, will each post plunging profits this week as they take different paths to fixing their operations in that economically ravaged region.

Ford, which will post third-quarter results today, said last week that it’s closing three factories in Europe and cutting 6,200 jobs, or 13 percent of its work force there. GM, which announces third-quarter results Wednesday, said last week it would develop small and mid-sized cars, vans and utility vehicles with PSA Peugeot Citroen, in which it took a 7 percent stake in February in an alliance aimed at cutting losses by sharing costs.

Neither move enabled GM or Ford to avoid operating losses of more than $500 million each in Europe in the third quarter, estimated Adam Jonas, an auto analyst at Morgan Stanley. Ford’s action, though, is more definitive than GM’s agreement with Peugeot, which may not be finalized by a self-imposed deadline of Wednesday.

“Ford has already announced their plan and they’re getting it done,” said Matthew Stover, auto analyst with Guggenheim Securities in Boston. “Ford controls its own destiny in Europe, while GM has cast its lot with PSA and that is getting more complicated by the week.”

Auto sales in Europe could fall to their lowest level in 19 years as the sovereign-debt crisis saps consumer confidence.

Despite the setbacks in Europe, investors aren’t betting against the stocks. Jonas at Morgan Stanley recommends both. Options protecting against losses on Ford shares slipped to the lowest price since March 2009 last week and reached a record low for GM, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News. North America sales and profits continue to be strong and the bad news in Europe is well known.

Ford said auto sales in Europe could fall further next year before a slight recovery in 2014.

Ford’s third-quarter profit excluding some items could have fallen 35 percent to 30 cents a share, the average of 19 estimates compiled by Bloomberg, from 46 cents a year earlier. GM’s profit excluding some items may have sunk 42 percent to 60 cents a share from $1.03 a year ago, the average of 17 estimates.

Ford said last week its pretax profit and earnings per share in the third quarter will top the second quarter’s $1.8 billion and 30 cents a share.

GM has lost $16.8 billion in Europe since 1999, while Ford has fared better, earning $1.73 billion since 2007. Ford said it will lose more than $3 billion in Europe this year and next as it restructures and will return to profitability by mid-decade.