* Q4 net profit down 6 pct to 1.89 trln won vs. consensus of
* Outlook dampened by currency shifts, competition
* Hyundai gains in China as Japanese rivals struggle
SEOUL, Jan 24 Hyundai Motor Co
posted a surprise quarterly profit decline after a stronger
local currency and the cost of compensating drivers in North
America for overstated fuel-economy claims dented car sales.
The Korean won strengthened almost 8 percent against the
dollar last year, its biggest gain since 2009, reducing the
value of Hyundai Motor's overseas revenue in local currency
terms and hurting the carmaker's price competitiveness abroad.
To make matters worse, the yen eased by 11 percent,
handing Hyundai's competitive edge back to its Japanese rivals.
Hyundai, ranked fifth in global sales with affiliate Kia
Motors, posted a 1.89 trillion won ($1.77 billion)
net profit for October-December, missing a consensus forecast of
2.15 trillion won in a Reuters poll of 15 analysts.
The profit decline, down 6 percent from 2 trillion won a
year earlier, was the first since Hyundai Motor switched
accounting rules in 2011.
Hyundai's fourth-quarter earnings were also hit after the
company set aside funds to cover the cost of compensating
customers for overstated fuel-economy claims on some cars sold
recently in the United States and Canada. Hyundai and affiliate
Kia Motors said they would help drivers pay for the
additional fuel costs. Analysts projected provisions of about
300 billion won to 400 billion won.
The worse-than-expected earnings results came despite record
car sales in the quarter.
Hyundai, which has enjoyed strong sales growth in recent
years by offering stylish, yet affordable models such as Sonata
and Elantra, sold 1.23 million vehicles in the fourth quarter,
up 11 percent from a year earlier.
The automaker, led by founding family member Chung Mong-koo,
also boosted sales at its new China plant as Japanese rivals
reeled from anti-Japanese sentiment. Hyundai has outperformed
the shrinking Europe market and increased U.S. gains, albeit at
a slower pace.
Shares in Hyundai Motor extended their losses, down 3.7
percent after the results, versus the wider market's 0.7