Hyundai Motor's 4th-quarter net profit hits record 

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Hyundai Motor's net profit jumped 48 percent in the fourth quarter to a record high as the automaker reaped gains from strong overseas sales.

Hyundai said Thursday that it earned 1.4 trillion won ($1.3 billion) in the three months ended Dec. 31 after recording 946 billion won in profit a year earlier.

Hyundai Motor Co. is South Korea's largest automaker and has become a major force in the global industry by expanding aggressively overseas with factories in China, India, Turkey, the United States, the Czech Republic and, from late last year, Russia. The company and South Korea's Kia Motors Corp. together form the world's fifth-largest automotive group.

Hyundai, the maker of the Elantra and Sonata sedans and the Tucson SUV, said total sales during the quarter rose 3.1 percent to 9.94 trillion won from 9.65 trillion won a year earlier.

Company spokeswoman Song Meeyoung said that the net profit and sales figures were all-time quarterly highs.

Sales volume increased 5.1 percent to 943,791 vehicles in the fourth quarter and rose 16.3 percent to a record 3.61 million for 2010.

Global market share for all of last year, however, remained unchanged from 2009 at 5.2 percent, Song said.

Annual net profit in 2010 surged 78 percent to 5.27 trillion won, while sales hit 36.77 trillion won, a gain of 15.4 percent. Both figures were also record highs, according to Song.

Hyundai enjoyed strong profitability last year due to strength in its overseas factories and sales operations, which contribute to its net earnings.

The company did not break down its overseas earnings performance for the fourth quarter alone, but said that its operations in China, India, the United States, the Czech Republic and Turkey all contributed to earnings in 2010.

Among those operations, the most notable performer was the United States, where sales volume increased 53.9 percent from 2009 to 300,000 vehicles, while revenue rose 46.8 percent, according to presentation materials for investors.

Operations in China, the world's biggest auto market, were also strong, with sales volume rising 23.3 percent to 703,000 vehicles and revenue gaining 20.8 percent.

Sales during 2010 from overseas factories totaled 1.88 million vehicles, a gain of 25.9 percent from the year before, Hyundai said. Exports of vehicles made in South Korea increased 17.8 percent to 1.07 million.

Greg Kim, an auto analyst at Mirae Asset Securities in Seoul, said that Hyundai's overseas factory sales during the final three months of last year reached their highest quarterly level ever.

"All the overseas factories, they performed very well," he said.

Hyundai Motor's share price fell 0.8 percent to close at 196,000 won, though remains 13 percent higher so far this year. The company's stock price rose 43 percent in 2010.


Kia Motors' 2010 net profit, sales hit records 

by Kelly Olsen, AP Business Writer

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Kia Motors said annual net profit and sales surged to all-time highs last year as it sold a record number of vehicles amid strong gains in China, Europe and the United States.

Kia, maker of the Sorento crossover, earned 2.25 trillion won ($2.02 billion) in 2010, the company announced Friday. That was a gain of 55 percent from 1.45 trillion won the year before.

Revenue rose 26 percent to 23.3 trillion won. Global sales volume increased 39 percent to 2.13 million vehicles.

The annual net profit, revenue and vehicle sales figures were all Kia's best ever, said company spokeswoman Pamela Munoz. Operating profit was also a record, she said.

Kia Motors, an affiliate of South Korea's Hyundai Motor Co., is the country's second-biggest automaker. Hyundai and Kia together form the world's fifth-largest automotive group.

For the final three months of the year, Kia said net profit rose 4.6 percent to 631.4 billion won, while sales increased 21 percent to 6.94 trillion won. Kia's highest quarterly profit ever of 666.6 billion won came in the third quarter of last year.

Kia said that sales of vehicles produced at its overseas factories surged 86 percent to 730,000 in 2010. Sales in China, the world's biggest auto market, rose 38 percent, while sales in Europe gained 53 percent, the company said. Kia sold 167,000 vehicles made at its U.S. plant in West Point, Georgia, which opened late in 2009.

Exports of vehicles made at factories in South Korea rose 26 percent to 917,000 for the full year. Domestic sales, meanwhile, gained 18 percent to 483,000 vehicles.

Shares in Kia Motors fell 3.1 percent to close Friday at 57,300 won. The company's stock price surged 152 percent in 2009.

Kia's results came a day after Hyundai said net profit jumped 48 percent in the fourth quarter to a record high 1.4 trillion won, boosted by strong overseas sales. Hyundai's annual net profit and sales also rose to record highs.

Hyundai also sold a record 3.61 million vehicles in 2010.