SEOUL, April 28 (Yonhap) — South Korean excavator maker Hyundai Construction Equipment Co. said Wednesday that it has reported better-than-expected performance in the first quarter from a year earlier on robust overseas demand and global economic stimulus plans.

Its net profit rose nearly 60-fold to 59.4 billion won (US$53.4 million) in the January-March period compared with 1.2 billion won a year ago, said Hyundai Construction Equipment, a unit of global shipbuilding holding company Hyundai Heavy Industries Holdings Co.

Sales came to 964.9 billion won, up 51.6 percent from the period a year earlier.

The company said higher prices of raw materials, such as iron ore, drove up demand for excavators, helping the quarterly bottom line.

Operating profit recorded 79.7 billion won, up more than seven times compared with 10.7 billion won a year ago.

In a poll on six analysts by Yonhap Informax, the financial news arm of Yonhap News Agency, Hyundai Construction Equipment’s operating profit is estimated to have risen more than fourfold in the first quarter to 48.6 billion won from a year ago, with its sales estimated at 811.3 billion won, up 27.5 percent.

“A sharp rise in sales of construction equipment in emerging markets, including China and India, led to the highest quarterly performance since 2017 when the company was set up,” the company said in an emailed statement.

During the January-March period, the company sold 3,179 excavators, up more than twofold from 1,331 units a year ago.

In India, it sold 1,549 excavators in the first quarter, up 40 percent compared with 1,106 units in the same period the previous year.

Another factor for the strong earnings is increased demand for construction equipment in North America and Europe on hopes of economic recovery, Hyundai Construction Equipment said.