SEOUL, Oct. 21 (Yonhap) — LG Chem Ltd., South Korea’s leading chemical firm, said Wednesday its third-quarter net profit more than quadrupled from a year earlier, helped by robust sales of petrochemical and battery products.

For the three months ending in September, its net profit soared to 570.39 billion won (US$503 million) from 137.19 billion won in the same period of last year, the company said in a statement.

“Raw material prices remained stable and demand for petrochemical products recovered in the third quarter. Increased sales of car batteries and rechargeable battery products also helped the bottom line,” the statement said.

In a conference call held after the release of the quarterly results, LG Chem Executive Vice President Cha Dong-seok expected sales in the petrochemical and battery divisions to continue to improve in the fourth quarter on robust demand for the products, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Operating profit more than doubled to 902.08 billion won in the third quarter from 348.76 billion won a year earlier.

The company logged its highest quarterly operating profit since it reported 831.3 billion won in the first quarter of 2011.

Sales rose 8.8 percent to 7.5 trillion won from 6.89 trillion won in the same period a year earlier.

LG Chem is the world’s biggest car battery supplier, accounting for a global share of 24.6 percent. It supplies lithium ion car batteries to more than 20 carmakers, such as General Motors Co., Volkswagen, Porsche, Geely Auto Group, Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp.

The company expects sales in the battery business to reach 18 trillion won in 2021 and over 30 trillion won in 2024, helped by growing demand for electric vehicles.

As for recent fires in Hyundai Motor Co.’s Kona Electric vehicle equipped with LG Chem’s lithium ion battery system, Vice President Lee Ho-woo said in the conference call that the company has formed a joint task force team with Hyundai to identify the cause of the fires in the all-electric car.

Last week, Hyundai Motor said it will voluntarily recall 77,000 Kona Electric models for a faulty battery cell component, as 14 cases of fires in the model — 10 domestically and four overseas — have been reported since 2018.

The announcement comes after the transport ministry said the Kona Electric models manufactured between Sept. 29, 2019, and March 13, 2020, are subject to the recall as a possible short circuit in the faulty battery cell system may cause a fire in the electric model.

Asked if the company has a plan to put aside some provisions to handle the fire cases, Lee said it’s too early to put aside any provisions for the matter as the exact cause of the fires has yet to be investigated.

On Wednesday, LG Chem fell 0.6 percent to 617,000 won and Hyundai Motor declined 1.2 percent to 165,500 won, underperforming the broader KOSPI’s 0.5 percent gain.