SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co said on Thursday first-quarter net profit slumped 44% to its lowest level for the quarter in a decade as the spreading coronavirus outbreak hit demand for cars worldwide.
Net profit for January-March was 463 billion won ($376 million), far below an average Refinitiv estimate of 607 billion won drawn from 15 analysts.
At the pandemic prompted governments to order lockdowns and other social distancing measures, consumer demand began tumbling in January – first in China, then in South Korea and from March in Europe and the United States.
Operating profit dropped 5% to 864 billion won from the same period a year earlier on an 6% slide in revenue.
Hyundai said in a statement it expects to face weakening profitability in the second quarter due to the pandemic.
With the outlook for many countries’ recoveries from the pandemic unclear, Hyundai has suspended production at three of its eight plants globally.
Hyundai shares rose 0.4% after the results, underperforming an 1.1% climb for the wider market.
($1 = 1,230.6800 won)
(Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)