SEOUL, April 22 (Xinhua) -- South Korea's biggest automaker Hyundai Motor saw its operating profit almost double in the first quarter on the back of strong automotive demand both at home and abroad, the company said Thursday.
The consolidated operating profit came in at 1.66 trillion won (1.5 billion U.S. dollars) in the January-March quarter, up 91.8 percent from a year earlier.
It beat market expectations of around 1.5 trillion won (1.3 billion U.S. dollars).
The operating profit margin stood at 6.0 percent in the March quarter, up 2.6 percentage points from a year earlier. It marked the highest in 18 quarters since the second quarter of 2016.
Revenue grew 8.2 percent over the year to 27.39 trillion won (24.6 billion U.S. dollars) in the quarter, and net income nearly tripled to 1.52 trillion won (1.4 billion U.S. dollars).
The better-than-forecast earnings came amid a recovery in domestic and overseas demand for locally-made vehicles.
Hyundai's global car sales expanded 10.7 percent over the year to 1,000,281 units in the first quarter.
The company's automotive sale in markets outside of South Korea increased 9.5 percent to 814,868 units thanks to sales recovery and market share expansions in China, India and the Americas.
It offset an adverse business environment, caused by the continued COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the unfavorable exchange rate.
The won/dollar exchange rate averaged 1,114 won per dollar in the January-March quarter, down 6.7 percent from a year earlier.
Hyundai's car sale in the domestic market advanced 16.6 percent to 185,413 units, led by robust sale of new models, including the Tucson sport utility vehicle (SUV), as well as G80 sedan and GV70 SUV of Genesis luxury brand.
Globally expanded economic stimulus packages were forecast to boost global automotive demand, but uncertainty remained over the prolonged pandemic, semiconductor supply shortage and raw material cost fluctuation.
The automaker said it plans to flexibly adjust its production in line with chip supply delays by preemptively securing its component inventory and looking for alternative chip parts to optimize production.
Hyundai noted that it will focus on enhancing its product mix with SUV and luxury models, while continuing efforts to become the leader of electrification with its IONIQ 5 as well as hybrid and plug-in hybrid models of Tucson SUV and Santa Fe SUV.