Profits jumped 71 percent for the Korean automaker in the last quarter of 2005, as strong sales of its high-end models more than made up for foreign exchange problems. Total profits for 2005 were up 12 percent year-over-year.

Hyundai already dominates the Korean market, and sells two-thirds of its vehicles overseas, so the recent strength of the Korean won is a serious problem for the automaker. The won is currently at an eight-year high against the U.S. dollar.

As the company aims toward its target of becoming one of the world's top six automakers by 2010, it is shifting production overseas to make it less sensitive to currency fluctuations. Hyundai opened its first U.S. plant last year, and its Kia Motors subsidiary will follow shortly. Hyundai already has factories in China, India and Turkey, with a Czech Republic plant in the works, along with a commercial vehicle joint venture in China.



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