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SEOUL, Sept. 22 (Yonhap) -- South Korean automaking giant Hyundai Motor Group fell behind Japanese rival Toyota Motor Corp. in profitability in the first half due mainly to the yen's weakness, industry data showed Sunday.
Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp., the group's flagships, posted a combined operating profit of US$5.36 billion on sales of $60.33 billion in the January-June period, registering an operating margin of 8.9 percent, according to the data.
The first-half operating margin was down 1.6 percentage points from a year earlier and the third-highest among the world's top 10 automakers.
Toyota recorded an operating profit of $11.76 billion on revenue of $121.97 billion in the six-month period, with its operating margin soaring to 9.6 percent, the second-highest among the global top 10.
In terms of operating margin, Hyundai Motor Group had remained No. 2 among the global auto giants since 2011.
Market watchers said Toyota clinched the No. 2 spot in the first half as it ramped up marketing activity on the back of a weak Japanese currency.
In contrast, Hyundai Motor Group was hit by a combination of negative factors such as the Korean currency's strength against the U.S. dollar and large costs stemming from massive recalls in the first quarter, they added.
German automaker BMW AG registered the highest operating margin of 11.1 percent in the first half though it edged down from 11.7 percent a year earlier.
The operating margin of Japan's Nissan Motor Co. stood at 5.5 percent in the first half, up 1.1 percentage points from the same period last year. Comparable operating margins were 3.6 percent for U.S. automaker General Motors Co., 5.9 percent for Volkswagen and 6.4 percent for Ford Motor Co., according to the data.
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