Kia Motors Corp. said its fourth-quarter earnings more than tripled from a year earlier on an improved product mix and a weak won.
Net profit for the October-December period soared to 346.4 billion won (US$297 million) from 94.3 billion won a year ago, the company said in a statement.
"Increased sales of value-added SUV models like the flagship Telluride and the entry-level Seltos helped improve (the company's) product mix. Friendly exchange rates also gave a boost to the quarterly results," the statement said.
About 60,000 Tellurides have been sold in the U.S. market since its launch in February last year. Strong sales of the Seltos in India also helped boost its bottom line, it said. The Telluride, produced in Kia's Georgia plant, was launched in the U.S. last year and sold only in North American markets.
The dollar rose to an average of 1,175.81 won in the fourth quarter from 1,127.52 won a year earlier, according to the Bank of Korea. A weak won makes South Korean exports more price-competitive in overseas markets and lifts the value of repatriated profits.
To maintain its recent sales momentum, Kia plans to launch the all-new Sorento SUV and the K5 sedan in the U.S. market this year.
In 2020, the company aims to sell 2.96 million vehicles globally, up 4.9 percent from 2.77 million units it sold last year.
In the longer term, it is targeting to achieve an operating profit margin of 6 percent in 2025 from 3.5 percent marked in the fourth quarter by strengthening next-generation models, including 11 electric cars, by that year.
On Wednesday, Kia shares rose 2.4 percent to 42,600 won, outperforming the broader KOSPI's 1.2 percent gain. Its affiliate Hyundai Motor Co. jumped 8.6 percent to 127,000 won on robust earnings results.
Operating profit jumped 55 percent to 590.5 billion won in the fourth quarter from 382 billion won the previous year. Sales rose 20 percent to 16.1 trillion won from 13.5 trillion won over the cited period.
For the whole of 2019, net profit jumped 58 percent to 1.83 trillion won from 1.16 trillion won a year earlier. Operating profit soared 74 percent to 2 trillion won from 1.16 trillion won, while sales were up 7.3 percent to 58.1 trillion won from 54.1 trillion won.
Kia has strengthened its SUV lineup with competitive models to take advantage of rising demand for recreational vehicles.
Its SUV lineup is composed of the flagship Mohave, midsize Sorento, compact Sportage, subcompact Stonic, Soul boxcar and Niro hybrid models.