Hyundai Motor net profit slumps 22% on strong won

Hyundai Motor posted Thursday a steep drop of more than 20 percent in fourth quarter profits as a strong won continued to blunt its price competitiveness against Japanese rivals.

Hyundai Motor posted Thursday a steep drop of more than 20 percent in fourth quarter profits as a strong won continued to blunt its price competitiveness against Japanese rivals.

Net profit for the October-December period was down 22.2 percent from a year ago at 1.65 trillion won ($1.51 billion), South Korea`s largest automaker said in a statement.

Hyundai, along with its smaller affiliate Kia, forms the world`s fifth largest automaker group.

Operating profit also tumbled 7.6 percent on-year to 1.88 trillion won, while sales rose 7.5 percent to 23.6 trillion won, it said.

The company has for the past decade steadily expanded its presence in the global market including the US, nipping at the heels of Japanese giants like Toyota and Honda.

But it has struggled recently as a weak yen has eroded its price competitiveness against the Japanese rivals in overseas markets.

Hyundai said it faced an uphill battle in 2015, as foreign carmakers seek to expand in the domestic Korean market and competition escalates overseas.

"It is believed the sales environment this year will continue to remain unfavourable," the company said, setting a worldwide sales target of 5.05 million vehicles.

The company sold 4.96 million vehicles in 2014, while operating profit for the whole year tumbled 9.2 percent to 7.5 trillion won -- the lowest since 2010.

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