Kia reported a net income of 1.2 trillion won or $1.1 billion for the first three months ended March, a 26% increase from the 953.2 billion won it achieved on the same period in 2011. The South Korean automaker's first-quarter profit, as reported in its regulatory filing, surpassed the 948.4 billion won average forecast of 26 analysts who Bloomberg had surveyed.
The automaker has benefited from the demand of its Sportage SUV and Rio compact cars, which lifted sales in the United States, China and Europe. In the United States, car sales for the first quarter increased by a revised 32%. This is more than three times the rate of the automaker's yearly goal. The automaker also achieved a rise of 25% in Europe and 15% in China as its vehicle models enjoyed popularity in export markets.
In January, Kia stated that it was aiming for growth of 23% in Europe and 10% in the United States. Operating profit, or sales less administrative expenses and the cost of goods sold, rose 33% to 1.12 trillion won, Kia disclosed. Sales income increased 11% to 11.8 trillion won, outperforming the 26 analysts' average estimate of 11.5 trillion won.
Analyst Shin Chung Kwan at KB Investment & Securities Co. commented that the automaker's trend of worldwide sales "will continue." He also stated that the automaker's sales in the domestic market will also grow as it introduces the new K series models this year.
Kia had struggled in the domestic market last quarter, the analyst noted. At present, the vehicle manufacturer has the capacity to produce 2.8 million automobiles or more in 2012, according to Kia's financial management boss Joo Woo Jeong. Joo noted that this is more than the 2.7 million sales originally targeted, adding that they anticipate the sales to "exceed the target."