South Korea's largest automaker Hyundai Motor reported its first quarterly loss in eight years on Thursday, with currency swings sending it USD 180 million into the red in October-December despite improved sales. Operating profit fell 35 per cent from a year earlier to 501 billion won (USD 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 per cent from the same period a year earlier, mainly due to rising demand from Europe and key emerging markets including Brazil and Russia.
It forecast business conditions to remain grim in 2019 owing to an ongoing trade war between Washington and Beijing and slowing growth in China -- once a major market for the carmaker.
"We will focus on the early normalisation 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.
Shares in the firm closed up 0.78 per cent. For all of 2018, Hyundai saw net profit tumble 63.8 per cent on-year to 1.6 trillion won, while operating profit sank 47 per cent to 2.4 trillion won.