Hyundai, Kia aim to increase 2013 sales by 4 percent

Tue Jan 1, 2013 6:23pm EST
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SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea's Hyundai Motor Co (005380.KS: Quote) and affiliate Kia Motors Corp (000270.KS: Quote) are targeting a 4 percent increase in global sales this year to a combined 7.41 million vehicles, their slowest growth since 2003.

The duo, which together ranks fifth in global car sales, is bracing for more modest growth after years of expansion at breakneck speed. Group chairman Chung Mong-koo has put the brakes on capacity building to focus on improving their quality and brands and safeguarding profitability.

But investors are concerned that growth momentum will stall with the firming won and Hyundai and Kia's go-slow strategy.

Hyundai/Kia's industry-leading margins are being threatened by the strengthening South Korean currency, which reduces repatriated earnings and pricing power. By contrast, the yen is softening, which could tip the competitive balance in favor of their Japanese rivals such as Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T: Quote) and Honda Motor Co Ltd (7267.T: Quote).

The won rose 7.6 percent against the dollar last year, its biggest percentage gain since 2009.

As a reflection of that sentiment, shares in Hyundai Motor rose 2.6 percent in 2012 while Kia shares slumped 15.3 percent, underperforming the wider market's .KS11 9.4 percent gain.

Hyundai and Kia were the worst performing stocks among the world's top five automakers last year, according to Thomson Reuters data.


The South Korean duo sold 7.12 million vehicles in 2012, up 8 percent from the previous year and better than their original target of 7 million.   Continued...

Hyundai Motor's Sonata sedan sits on display at a dealership in Seoul February 24, 2010. REUTERS/Lee Jae-Won