Hyundai Motor's net profit jumped 35 percent to a record high last year after selling more than 4 million cars for the first time.
The company's 2011 earnings reached 8.1 trillion won ($7.2 billion), up from 6 trillion won a year earlier, the automaker said Thursday in a regulatory filing. Operating profit rose 36.4 percent to 8.07 trillion won.
Company officials said in a telephone conference that sales increased in countries such as the United States and China as well as at home. For the first time, the company sold more than 4 million cars in a year, they said.
Hyundai Motor Co., the maker of the Elantra and Sonata sedans and the Tucson SUV, is South Korea's largest automaker and a major force in the global auto industry. It has expanded aggressively overseas in recent years with factories in China, India, the Czech Republic, the United States and Russia.
Despite last year's growth, the company is wary of uncertainties in the global market as financial worries trouble European and other nations, it said in a statement.
Challenges from U.S. automakers are also expected to intensify in markets for small and medium-size cars while Japanese competitors are poised to unveil new models, Hyundai Motor said.
The South Korean automaker said it will focus on quality and consolidate its internal management rather than excessively expanding this year as it tries to deal with challenges.
"This means the company will concentrate on raising the profitability of its existing models through various sales tactics," said Chung Sung-yop, an analyst with Daiwa Securities in Seoul. He also expects the company to invest further this year in burnishing its brand at home and abroad.
Hyundai Motor owns a large stake in Kia Motors, South Korea's second-largest automaker, and they together form one of the world's largest auto groups.