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 Tuscon 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.