Hyundai Motor reported a 12.5% rise in fourth-quarter profit, despite the impact of a weak yen that blunted its price competitiveness overseas against Japanese rivals. Net profit for South Korea's top carmaker amounted to 2.13tn won ( $1.98bn ) from October to December, up 12.5% from the same period in 2012 when the company had set aside 240bn won to compensate US owners for inaccurate fuel-consumption estimates. Operating profit rose 10.8% to 2.3tn won, while sales fell 3.4% to 21.9tn won. For the entire year of 2013, sales rose 3.4% to reach 87.3tn won. But operating and net profit fell 1.5% and 0.7% to reach 8.3tn won and 8.9tn won respectively. The Korean currency has risen steadily in the past year against the dollar and the Japanese yen, hitting its highest against both currencies in about five years. The yen has tumbled owing to an aggressive monetary easing programme put in place by the Bank of Japan as part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's drive to kickstart the world's third-largest economy. A strong won weakens the price competitiveness of major South Korean exporters like Samsung and Hyundai in overseas markets, and reduces the value of their overseas earnings when repatriated. Hyundai , along with its smaller affiliate Kia, forms the world's fifth-largest automaking group. Hyundai chairman Chung Mong-Koo said earlier this month the group would sell 7.86mn cars this year, up 3.9% from 2013 and the weakest annual growth since 2003. Lee Won-Hee , Hyundai's chief financial officer, acknowledged the company faced a tough road ahead.
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