Hyundai-Kia-share prices

SEOUL, March 27 (Yonhap) -- Shares of South Korea's top automaker Hyundai Motor Co. and its sister company, Kia Motors, have dipped in recent months due apparently to a weaker yen, becoming one of the worst performers among their global peers.

Hyundai Motor's share price stood at 214,500 won (US$193) as of Friday, down 1.8 percent from the end of 2012. Kia's shares dropped 2.5 percent during the cited period, according to the data compiled by financial companies.

In contrast, Toyota Motor Corp. saw its shares surge 21.8 percent during the cited period, followed by Honda Motor Co. with 16.7 percent and Nissan Motor Co. with 16.6 percent. Shares of Ford Motor Co. increased 2.4 percent.

Volkswagen AG saw its shares plunge 8 percent and shares of General Motors Co. dropped 2.15 percent during the period.

For the full year of 2012, shares of Kia Motors dropped 15.3 percent, becoming the worst performer among the top eight carmakers in the world.

Shares of Volkswagen AG climbed 57 percent last year, followed by Toyota Motor with 56.1 percent, GM with 42.2 percent, Honda Motor with 33.9 percent and Ford with 20.4 percent.

The surge of Japanese carmakers' shares comes as they regained price competitiveness due to a weaker Japanese currency.

E-Trade Securities analyst Kang Sang-min said shares of Hyundai and Kia are among the worst performers, though they were among the best performers over the past five years when shares of Toyota Motor slumped.

Hyundai Motor, which competes with Toyota Motor and other Japanese rivals in the global market, could lose its competitive edge because its rivals' products have gotten cheaper.

Japan has kicked off aggressive monetary easing to help boost its economy.

In September, the Bank of Japan rolled out an additional 10 trillion yen (US$103.4 billion) asset purchase program, setting the stage for a decline of the Japanese currency against the U.S. dollar.

The Japanese unit changed hands at 94.9 yen per dollar last Friday, down 22 percent from 77.8 yen quoted at the end of September 2012.

Still, Seo Sung-moon, an analyst at Korea Investment and Securities, said Kia is likely to quickly rebound as the Korean won showed signs of weakening against the dollar.

A strong won hurts South Korea's exporters by making their products more expensive in overseas markets.

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