Small cars have been gaining a lot of popularity despite the economic recession, giving Hyundai Motor Co. a record quarterly operating profit. With the dilemma that Toyota Motor Corp. is in due to the safety recalls, analysts predict that Hyundai will be able to keep its edge.
Hyundai, which makes the Sonata sedan, posted an October-December operating profit of 837.2 billion won ($728.4 million), up 44% from a year earlier and 29% above a consensus forecast on Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Beating analysts' forecasts, Hyundai had its fourth-quarter net profit nearly quadrupled to 945.5 billion won ($822.7 million).
In addition, sales rose 9.3% to 9.65 trillion won ($8.40 billion). Analysts also said that Hyundai, along with affiliate Kia Motors Corp., would have a healthy sales growth this year as demand rises due to the economic recovery and the arrival of new models.
Mitsuru Kurokawa, analyst at IHS Global Insight in Tokyo, said that compared to Toyota, "Hyundai still has a lot of momentum" because of its broad compact car line-up, attractive prices for the quality it offers and clever marketing.
Hyundai's success in 2009 came about with the shift to smaller cars and government incentives worldwide for car buyers.
Hyundai was also able to grab market share in the US and in China due to its popular, low-cost models and sassy marketing. Hyundai's Elantra was named the best-selling foreign car in China, which is now the world's biggest auto market.