Hyundai Motor makes first quarterly loss in eight years

SEOUL, South Korea (AFP) — South Korea’s largest automaker Hyundai Motor reported its first quarterly loss in eight years on Thursday, with currency swings sending it $180 million into the red in October-December despite improved sales.

Operating profit fell 35 percent from a year earlier to 501 billion won ($443 million), the firm said in a statement, and it made a net loss of 203 billion won.

“Due to weakened currency in emerging markets coupled with other external factors… profitability fell in 2018 compared to the previous year,” said Hyundai, which together with its subsidiary Kia is the world’s fifth-largest automaker.

The company sold 1.23 million cars worldwide in the fourth quarter, up 0.6 percent from the same period a year earlier, mainly due to rising demand from Europe and key emerging markets including Brazil and Russia.

Hyundai forecast business conditions to remain grim in 2019 amid an ongoing trade war between Washington and Beijing and slowing growth in China — once a major market for the car-maker.

“We will focus on the early normalization of business in key markets including the US and China, while bolstering our response to emerging markets like India and the ASEAN countries,” it said.

For the full year, Hyundai saw its net profit tumble 63.8 percent from 2017 to 1.6 trillion won, while operating profit also plunged 47 percent to 2.4 trillion won.

© Agence France-Presse