SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- Kia Motors said Friday that 2009 net profit surged as South Korea's second-largest automaker sold more cars at home and abroad amid government stimulus programs to boost demand during the global economic downturn.
Kia earned 1.45 trillion won ($1.25 billion) in the 12 months through Dec. 31, the company said in a statement, ballooning from 114 billion won the year before.
Kia said sales last year rose 12.4 percent to 18.42 trillion won from 16.38 trillion won in 2008. The company sold 1.53 million vehicles, an increase of 9.6 percent.
Government incentive programs for vehicle purchases helped boost sales, it said. Kia also credited launches of new vehicles with spurring demand.
Kia Motors Corp. is an affiliate of South Korea's Hyundai Motor Co. Together, they form the world's fifth-largest automotive group. The companies, which dominate the South Korean market, have been expanding aggressively overseas in recent years and gaining market share.
The company said it plans to increase sales in 2010 to 1.94 million vehicles, which would be a gain of 26.5 percent.
Kia has plants in China and Slovakia and the United States, where production began late last year.
The company's share price fell 0.51 percent to close at 19,550 won. The stock tripled in value in 2009.
In the fourth quarter of 2009, Kia said it earned 604 billion won, soaring from 75 billion won the same period the year before.
Sales in the three months ended Dec. 31 rose 14 percent to 5.73 trillion won from 5.04 trillion won a year earlier. Vehicle sales increased 11 percent.
Kia's results came one day after Hyundai said that net profit nearly quadrupled in the fourth quarter to 945.5 billion won amid strong performance in the fast-growing Chinese and Indian markets.
Hyundai has factories in China, India, Turkey, the Czech Republic and the United States.