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Hyundai, Kia's market cap drops due to weaker yen
SEOUL, Jan. 23 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's leading automakers -- Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp. -- saw their combined market capitalization drop sharply compared to their global big-names due mainly to the steep depreciation of the Japanese yen, data showed Wednesday.

   The market cap of Hyundai and Kia reached a combined US$65.3 billion as of Tuesday, ranking fourth after Toyota Motor Corp. with $163.8 billion, Volkswagen AG with $106.6 billion and Honda Motor Co. with $67.8 billion, according to the data.

   Hyundai and Kia, the flagship companies of Hyundai Motor Group, rose to the runner-up position in May last year and finished third by the end of 2012. But Hyundai Motor Group, the world's fifth automotive group by sales, was overtaken by Honda in recent weeks.

   Market insiders said market capitalization of the South Korean firms have been on a sharp decline from the second half of last year as the new Tokyo government's monetary easing sparked a trend in a weaker yen.

   The Korean currency appreciated about 19 percent against 100 yen last year, hurting local exporters' price advantage to their Japanese rivals in overseas markets.

   The combined market cap of Hyundai and Kia stood at $67.9 billion at the end of October last year but dropped to $65.3 billion in mid-January, losing $2.6 billion over the two months.

   Japanese automakers, however, saw their market cap rise over the cited period. Toyota's market cap picked up to $163.8 billion from $132.4 billion in October and Honda's market cap jumped to $67.8 billion from $54.2 billion during the two-month period.

   Kia saw its share price on the Seoul bourse plunge 12.4 percent between late November and last Friday, with Hyundai's shares falling 5.3 percent over the cited period.

   In contrast, the world's 17 car manufacturers' stock prices rose on average 14.6 percent. Shares of Toyota soared 21.6 percent and Honda logged a 26.7 percent jump in its stock price during the period, the data showed.

   Analysts said Hyundai and Kia will continue to struggle in the new year as the yen depreciation will unlikely end soon.

   "Sluggish stock price of local carmakers is affected largely by the strong won," said Kim Dong-ha, an analyst from Kyobo Securities Co. "Their 2013 performance will be swayed by the currency, and Hyundai and Kia will likely fail to meet market expectation."