SEOUL, Jan. 27 (Yonhap) — Kia Corp., South Korea’s second-biggest carmaker, said Wednesday its fourth-quarter net profit nearly tripled from a year earlier on an improved product mix despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Net profit for the three months ended December jumped to 976.75 billion won (US$884 million) from 346.36 billion won a year earlier, the company said in a statement.

“A combination of increased sales of high-end and recreational vehicles and companywide cost cuts gave a boost to the quarterly bottom line,” it said.

Operating profit more than doubled to 1.28 trillion won in the fourth quarter from 590.52 billion won a year ago. Sales rose 5 percent to 16.91 trillion won from 16.11 trillion won during the same period.

An improved product mix and increased average selling prices helped offset production losses involving the union’s partial strikes for higher wages and lower vehicle demand amid an extended COVID-19 pandemic, it said.

For the whole of 2020, net profit fell 18 percent to 1.5 trillion won from 1.83 trillion won the previous year as the pandemic weighed on production and sales throughout the year in global markets.

Full-year operating profit rose 2.8 percent to 2.07 trillion won in 2020 from 2 trillion won a year ago. Sales climbed 1.8 percent to 59.17 trillion won from 58.15 trillion won during the same period.

This file photo provided by Kia Corp. shows its headquarters building with its new company logo in Yangjae, southern Seoul. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE)(Yonhap)