SEOUL (Bloomberg) -- Hyundai Motor Co. said third-quarter profit rose 21 percent, helped by sales of Sonata sedans and Tucson SUVs. Net income climbed to 1.92 trillion won ($1.7 billion) in the three months ended Sept. 30, compared with 1.59 trillion won a year earlier, the Korean automaker said in a statement today.
South Korea's largest maker of automobiles was projected to report profit of 1.89 trillion won, based on the average estimate of seven analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.
Chief Financial Officer Lee Won Hee said Hyundai Motor will probably sell more than 4 million vehicles this year as they crank up production from factories in markets such as China.
The gains will probably lead Hyundai Motor to post record earnings this year and exceed profits generated by Japan's Toyota Motor Corp., according to analyst estimates.
"The earnings reaffirmed Hyundai's outstanding competitiveness in overseas markets," said Lee Jin Woo, senior fund manager at Seoul-based KTB Asset Management Co., which oversees $4.6 billion assets including Hyundai shares. "Industry demand may slow next year amid the global economic downturn but I still expect Hyundai to fare better than global rivals."
Hyundai Motor, whose shares have outperformed those of Toyota and Nissan Motor Co. this year, closed unchanged at 223,500 won today. The Kospi Index rose 1.5 percent. For the first nine months of the year, Hyundai sold 3 million vehicles and the company is likely to deliver more than 4 million units this year, Lee said.
Hyundai had initially targeted sales of 3.9 million this year. In China, demand for mid-sized sedans surged, resulting in monthly Sonata sedan sales climbing above 10,000 for the first time in September. The company also boosted production in Russia, where Hyundai began manufacturing cars last year, after it started to build affiliate Kia Motors Corp.'s redesigned Rio subcompact, according to company data.
Nine-month sales in China, the world's biggest car market, rose 12 percent to 553,000 vehicles, the company said. The company delivered about 510,000 vehicles in Korea, up 7.3 percent, it said. U.S. sales rose by 20 percent for the first 9 months of 2011, while in Europe, Hyundai's sales increased 9.4 percent during the first three quarters, it said.