September 3, 2012 / 6:23 AM / in 5 years

Hyundai Motor sales fall first time in over 3 years

The logo of Hyundai Motor is seen on a car displayed at a Hyundai dealership in Seoul July 26, 2012. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

SEOUL (Reuters) - Hyundai Motor Co’s (005380.KS) sold 4.6 percent less vehicles in August than the same month last year, the first fall in more than three years, hit by a slew of partial strikes at South Korean factories that could also slow September numbers.

Workers vote later on Monday on a tentative wage deal reached last week that could end the South Korean automaker’s first walkouts in four years. The result is expected after midnight.

“The deal is likely to be approved given prolonged talks and walkouts,” said Suh Sung-moon, an analyst at Korea Investment & Securities.

“Traditionally, there were few cases where workers went on a strike again after a deal was rejected. Even if the deal is rejected, they will renegotiate the agreement,” he said.

Even if the deal goes through, a company executive had previously told Reuters that sales abroad, around 85 percent of the total, may be hit in September by the strike, given the time needed to ship vehicles to overseas markets.

The firm will try to make up the total loss of 76,723 cars worth 1.59 trillion Korean won ($1.40 billion) with extra work later this year and it sales target should be met on an annual basis, analysts and company officials have said.

Hyundai, the world’s fifth largest carmaker along with affiliate Kia Motors (000270.KS), sold 293,924 vehicles last month, down 4.6 percent from a year earlier, the first fall since May 2009 when the global financial crisis was hitting demand.

Hyundai’s domestic shipments slid 30 percent, while its overseas sales inched up 0.4 percent.

Prior to the results, shares in Hyundai ended up 0.42 percent, in line with the wider market’s .KS11 0.4 percent gain.

Additional reporting by Daum Kim; Editing by Michael Urquhart

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