Hyundai's 1Q earnings down as vehicle sales drop, local currency strengthens



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SEOUL, South Korea — Hyundai Motor Co. said Thursday its first-quarter profit dropped due to lower vehicle sales at home and abroad and the strong local currency.

The maker of Genesis sedan and Sonata said Tuesday its net profit was down 2 percent over a year earlier to 1.98 trillion won ($1.83 billion) while operating income sank 18 percent to 1.59 trillion won.

The fall in profit was smaller than forecast by analysts but operating income was short of expectations. Sales dipped 3 percent to 20.9 trillion won.

The Korean automaker, which is part of the world's fifth-largest automotive company, blamed the poor result on lower car sales at home and abroad. It sold 1.18 million vehicles during the first three months of this year, down 4 percent from a year earlier.

Sales weakened in South Korea, where foreign brands are nibbling away at Hyundai's market share, and also dropped in the United States and China.

The company said the global launch of the upgraded Tucson sport utility vehicle would improve its earnings during the current quarter. The domestic launch of the revamped Tucson helped Hyundai kick up home sales in March.

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