SEOUL (Bloomberg) -- Hyundai Motor Co. reported a 38 percent increase in fourth- quarter profit, fueled by surging sales of its Elantra compact sedan in the U.S.
Net income climbed to 2 trillion won ($1.8 billion) in the three months ended Dec. 31, from 1.45 trillion won a year earlier, the carmaker said today in a regulatory filing. Analysts expected a 2.24 trillion won profit, according to the average of 13 estimates compiled by Bloomberg.
Revenue climbed 11 percent to 20.5 trillion won. The results capped a year where Hyundai, benefiting from Japanese carmakers' production shortfalls, generated more profit than the combined estimated earnings at Toyota Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor Co.
This year, the Korean company faces more competition as rivals restore lost production from last year's natural disasters in Japan and Thailand.
Hyundai is the first among the biggest global carmakers to report results for the latest quarter. Ford Motor Co. and Hyundai affiliate Kia Motors Corp. report later this week.
Fourth-quarter operating profit, or sales minus the cost of goods sold and administrative expenses, rose 72 percent to 2.13 trillion won, Hyundai said. That compares with the 2.26 trillion won average estimate compiled by Bloomberg.
Hyundai and affiliate Kia may sell a combined 7 million units in 2012, Chung Mong Koo, chairman of both companies, said during a Jan. 2 speech. Kia reports earnings tomorrow.
Hyundai plans to introduce two new models this year, the successor to the Santa Fe sport-utility vehicle and a model codenamed HB that will target the Brazilian market, according to the company. The HB, a five-door hatchback, will be built on a new platform in Brazil, Hyundai said.
U.S. sales increased by 20 percent in 2011, double the market's 10 percent overall growth. Deliveries of the Elantra, winner of the North American Car of the Year award, jumped 41 percent in the U.S. last year, exceeding sales of General Motors Co.'s entire line of Buick vehicles, Ford Motor Co.'s Focus and Toyota Motor Corp.'s Prius in the country, according to data compiled by Autodata Corp.
Hyundai's profit rose in a year when natural disasters in Japan and Thailand hobbled production for Toyota and Honda Motor Co., while the strength of yen, which appreciated against all major currencies for a second straight year, reduced the value of Japanese exports.
Competition may intensify this year as Japanese carmakers restore lost production. Toyota raised its forecast yesterday for 2012 global sales, excluding those of subsidiaries Daihatsu Motor Co. and Hino Motors Ltd., saying deliveries will climb 21 percent to 8.58 million vehicles.