Hyundai Q4 profit up 38% on US and China sales image

South Korea’s largest automaker — Hyundai Motor Co. (005380.SE) on Thursday posted a 38% increase in its fourth quarter net profit as stronger overseas sales were boosted by a slide in the South Korean won.

Consolidated operating profit, including earnings from overseas affiliates, reached a new high of 8.07 trillion won (7.2 billion U.S. dollars) in 2011, up 36.4 percent from a year earlier, according to a regulatory filing.

Hyundai has benefited as Japanese carmakers have seen production cut due to the March tsunami and earthquake.

However, some analysts say that advantage could run out as rivals Toyota and Honda recover.

“Hyundai will face tougher competition from U.S. and Japanese rivals that suffered setbacks in recent years,” said Im Jeong Jae, a Seoul-based fund manager at Shinhan BNP Paribas Asset Management Co., which oversees about $28 billion including Hyundai shares.

Operating profit rose 72 percent to 2.127 trillion won from 1.237 trillion, while sales were up 11 percent to 20.519 trillion from 18.540 trillion.

For the whole of last year net profit rose 35 percent to 8.105 trillion won from 6.001 trillion in 2010.

The Korean automaker will pay a year-end dividend of 1,750 won per share. The dividend payout will total 480.1 billion won ($426.40 million), Hyundai Motor said in a filing to the Korea Exchange.