SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Hyundai Motor Co. said Thursday its net profit in the fourth quarter of 2007 fell 30.6 percent from the same period a year ago due to weakness in the share price of affiliate Kia Motors Corp.

Hyundai Motor, South Korea's largest automaker, earned 338 billion won ($356 million) in the three months ended Dec. 31, the company said in a statement. Hyundai posted net profit of 486.8 billion won in the same quarter a year earlier.

Jake Jang, a Hyundai spokesman, said losses related to the company's stake in Kia Motors and higher corporate taxes were responsible for the steep fall.

Hyundai owns 38.6 percent of Kia, South Korea's second largest automaker. Kia's share price fell about 25 percent in the fourth quarter of 2007 compared with its value in the last quarter of 2006.

The result was worse then expected. The average estimate of eight analysts surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires forecast that Hyundai would post net profit of 517.48 billion won ($544.9 million).

Sales during the quarter rose 15 percent to 8.74 trillion won ($9.2 billion) from 7.58 trillion won a year earlier.

Analysts had forecast sales of about at 8.64 trillion won ($9.1 billion).

Shares in Hyundai, which released earnings results before the stock market closed, rose 2.3 percent to $74 about 30 minutes before the close.

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Hyundai's Profit Falls 31 Percent

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