Hyundai Motor Co. says its first-quarter net profit has dropped 12 percent over a year earlier as global sales declined.

South Korea's largest automaker said on Tuesday its January-March net income was 1.7 trillion won ($1.5 billion), compared with 1.91 trillion won a year earlier.

The results were better than expected: Analysts expected 1.53 trillion won according to FactSet, a financial data provider.

Sales rose 7 percent while operating profit dropped 16 percent. The maker of the Genesis and Sonata sedans has seen its operating income fall year-on-year in the past seven quarters.

During the first three months of this year, Hyundai's vehicle sales were hit by a decline in exports and lower sales in emerging markets like China, Russia and Brazil.