Hyundai Motor affiliate Kia Motors on Friday reported quarterly profit close to double analysts' estimates. Analysts sais its earnings were expected to climb again this year as the global economic recovery, a better image and higher quality cars boost sales.

Kia reported a record net profit of KRW603.9 bn (US$524.2m) for the fourth quarter after analysts' forecast KRW310.9bn, Reuters said. That compared with KRW74.8bn profit a year earlier and KRW402bn in the third quarter of the last year.

Operating profit of KRW411.8bn for the quarter ended 31 December, 2009 was above a forecast of KRW328bn. Sales grew 13.6% year on year to KRW5.73 trillion.

Parent Hyundai reported strong quarterly and full year profits yesterday.

"Kia will keep growth momentum this year, led by new models, and as its sales outlook in China and the US is bright, especially with [recall] troubles of Toyota," Koo Zayong, co-head of equity research at Nomura International in Seoul, told Reuters. "A firmer won will not be an issue if it gains at a steady speed."