Light Reading

Ericsson Flatlines in 2013, Trails Huawei

Ray Le Maistre
1/30/2014
50%
50%

A strong fourth quarter, helped by the recent royalty payments agreement with Samsung, helped Ericsson deliver full-year 2013 results that, in many respects, matched those of 2012. As expected, though, that wasn't enough to stop Huawei taking the Swedish vendor's crown.

Helped by the Samsung Corp. payments, Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) reported fourth-quarter revenues of 67 billion Swedish kronor (US$10.3 billion), almost exactly the same as a year earlier, but up by a whopping 27% from the tough third quarter, when the company admitted that sales volumes were under pressure. (See Ericsson Suffers Sales Pressure.)

Fourth-quarter margins and profits were also considerably better than in the third quarter, and much better than a year earlier: Ericsson's management team had long talked about how margins would improve once some major projects moved from initial rollouts to more profitable capacity upgrade cycles, and that now appears to be happening.

Table 1: Ericsson Q4 2013 Key Financials

In SEK billions Q4 2013 Q4 2012 Change Q3 2013 Change
Revenues 67 66.9 0% 53 27%
Gross margin 37.1% 31.1% Up 6 percentage points 32.0% Up 5.1 percentage points
Operating margin (excluding JVs) 13.5% 7.1% Up 6.4 percentage points 8.1% Up 5.4 percentage points
Net income 6.4 -6.3 -- 3 114%

The full-year numbers show a similar pattern, with revenues of SEK227.4 billion ($34.95 billion) pretty much identical to 2012, while margins reflected the transition through the year.

Table 2: Ericsson Full-Year 2013 Key Financials

In SEK billions Full year 2013 Full year 2012 Change
Revenues 227.4 227.8 0%
Gross margin 33.6% 31.6% Up by 2 percentage points
Operating margin (excluding JVs) 7.9% 9.7% Down by 1.8 percentage points
Net income 12.2 5.9 105%

Overall, the numbers were not quite as good as expected by financial analysts, but CEO Hans Vestberg (who is sticking with his current job…) is confident that margins can continue to improve, and the company announced a dividend of SEK3 ($0.46) per share, news that helped give Ericsson's share price a near 2.8% lift to SEK79.55 on the Stockholm exchange. (See Ericsson CEO Snubs Microsoft Top Job Too?.)

And the flat annual sales also means Ericsson has lost its "King of the Telecom Vendors" crown to rival Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , which has already announced preliminary full-year revenues for 2013 of nearly $40 billion. Ericsson had clung onto its #1 position by a hair's breadth last year. (See Huawei's Operating Profit Soars and Ericsson Retains Its Crown – Barely.)

The big question for Ericsson, though, is: what next? Is there enough business to sustain its current sales levels?

Vestberg has already talked (in the third-quarter report) about how the major US 4G network rollouts have been largely completed and that investments in Japan have scaled down. There is a great deal of mobile infrastructure activity in China, but Ericsson's slice of that pie will be minimal in terms of market share, though not insubstantial in terms of income. (See Report: Huawei, ZTE Win Big at China Mobile and Alcatel-Lucent Makes 4G Gains in China.)

Can Europe deliver new business? "Over time, we expect the telecom industry in Europe to improve, driven by macroeconomic development and a recent investment announcement made by one of the large operators," noted the CEO, referring to the plans by Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) to bolster its European infrastructure. (See Vodafone Ups 'Project Spring' Capex to $11B+.)

Of course, Ericsson isn't just a network gear play: Its Global Services division delivered nearly 43% of total revenues in 2013 and accounts for 64,000 of its total 114,340 staff, while its Networks division generated nearly 52% of full-year sales. Support Solutions, which comprises its Service Provider Information Technology (SPIT) and video/IPTV assets, accounted for the remaining 5%.

And while Support Solutions is a relatively small part of the business, Vestberg believes this is where Ericsson can generate new growth. Having splashed out on multiple acquisitions, most notably that of Telcordia in the OSS space and Mediaroom in IPTV, he believes his company can benefit from the ongoing demand for video capabilities from network operators and from the need for updated OSS and BSS systems to support 4G LTE and the shift to more virtualized networks. (See Ericsson's Network Slicing: It's Far Out, Man, Ericsson CTO Bangs SDN Drum, Say Goodbye to Telcordia, and Ericsson Buys Microsoft's IPTV Unit.)

— Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

(7)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
R Clark
50%
50%
R Clark,
User Rank: Blogger
1/31/2014 | 10:03:38 AM
Re: Ericsson's still top
Innovation could be an interesting challenge for Huawei. Its R&D budget now has to support three lines of business. 
Ray@LR
50%
50%
Ray@LR,
User Rank: Blogger
1/31/2014 | 4:22:20 AM
Re: Ericsson's still top
Indeed there are many ways to look at this, and each is only a guideline of relative strengths and industry clout -- to what extent, for example, should (or can!?) we extract Ericsson's revenues from the broadcast industry?

Ultimately the key thing to consider is whether a company is profitable, growing and involved in key areas of innovation, whether a $40 billion, $4 billion or $40 million turnover company. 
R Clark
100%
0%
R Clark,
User Rank: Blogger
1/30/2014 | 11:28:19 PM
Ericsson's still top
Huawei is still quite a way behind Ericsson. Its guidance for 2013 FY is around $39.5bn. In the previous two years the share held by carrier, enterprise & device respectively has been stable at 73%, 5%, & 22%.

At that rate, it did around $29bn in carrier revenue in '13.

But its handset group had a massive year, with unit sales up 68%, so  likely its share of total revenue also went up. Even with the China 4G rollouts peaking this year and next, it's hard to see Huawei overtaking Ericsson in  the foreseeable.





 

 
Carol Wilson
50%
50%
Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
1/30/2014 | 11:44:30 AM
Re: Global Services buffer but how long will that be enough?
I think Ericsson is counting on doing a fair amount of business helping service providers get to SDN/NFV. But then, so is Huawei. 
SarahReedy
50%
50%
SarahReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
1/30/2014 | 10:45:40 AM
Re: Global Services buffer but how long will that be enough?
Just spoke with Johan Wiberg, Ericsson's small cell lead, and he reiterated how happy Ericsson is with its Q4 results. He says:

"Our core businesses are getting more and more solid in terms of profitability. We have one-time expenses related to Samsung, but put that back into the numbers, and they are extremely strong...

We feel extremely strong in our range of business and in our traditional core network business. We are investing in new areas, IP and SDN...We are really encouraged by big customers who are telling us Ericsson can be disruptive in the IP space. And SDN will restructure the networks. We are reallocating more funds in R&D to SDN."
pjbclarke
100%
0%
pjbclarke,
User Rank: Lightning
1/30/2014 | 9:36:59 AM
Huawei Ericsson sales comparison
One thing to note is that Huawei's results announced so far include enterprise and handsets. Ericsson divested its handsets last year so will be interesting to compare Huawei's real telco infrastructure numbers with ericssons in a few months
Ray@LR
50%
50%
Ray@LR,
User Rank: Blogger
1/30/2014 | 9:09:38 AM
Global Services buffer but how long will that be enough?
As we've discussed before, Ericsson does not have to rely on selling gear to make its living - the long-time commitment to supporting services has really paid off, as it has for NSN too.

So for the time being, a combo of network gear + support services is fine.

What all of the big vendors need to consider is -- when will their current portfolios be insufficient for a going concern? What will the impact of virtualization/SDN/NFV be on all their product sets and strategies - and staff.

Telco companies need people with IT smarts and they need 'data scientists' -- hiring them might be another matter. 
Flash Poll
From The Founder
Networks of the future will rely on "white box" switches and servers rather than proprietary hardware and that's going to alter the shape of the communications industry. Who says so? John Chambers.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
eLTE Rapid Meets the Need for Speed

3|26|15   |   4:45   |   (0) comments


Designed especially for emergency and dedicated ad hoc local mobile communications coverage, Huawei's eLTE Rapid solution can deliver trunked voice, video and data coverage for multiple users over a 6km range and be set up in just 15 minutes, explains Huawei's Norman Frisch.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
On Videos: Challenges & Opportunities

3|26|15   |   5:56   |   (0) comments


Most everything is now connected. And along with 4K and 4G technologies, everyone could be creating and broadcasting video contents. Users are expecting better video experience with any screen, anywhere and anytime. Operators will meet new challenges, but also see some big opportunities.
LRTV Custom TV
JDSU: Delivering Dynamic Networks for a Personalized Experience

3|26|15   |   5:59   |   (0) comments


Light Reading speaks to JDSU at Mobile World Congress 2015 about new solutions in the areas of HetNets, VoLTE, backhaul, virtualization, big data analytics, and real-time intelligence.
LRTV Custom TV
Smarter Service Chaining & New Ways to Benefit From Qosmos Technology

3|25|15   |   03:11   |   (0) comments


David Le Goff, director of strategic and product marketing at Qosmos, explains how the company has added application awareness to subscriber information to make service chaining more efficient and reduce costs for networking and infrastructure. In addition, Qosmos technology, which has been delivered as C libraries, is now also available as a virtual machine, ...
Between the CEOs
Qosmos CEO: The Changing Face of DPI

3|24|15   |   13:53   |   (0) comments


LR CEO and Founder Steve Saunders sits down with the head of Qosmos to talk about the changing state of the art in deep packet inspection technology, including its role in SDN and NFV architectures. Also, how the comms market is becoming more like the automotive industry.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
FC Schalke Scores With Its Agile Stadium

3|24|15   |   6:23   |   (0) comments


Top German soccer club FC Schalke 04 has deployed a new, agile WiFi network from Huawei in its Veltins-Arena stadium and is reaping the benefits in terms of customer satisfaction and business opportunities, explains marketing chief Alexander Jobst.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei’s Insights on Mobile Video

3|24|15   |   7:51   |   (0) comments


More people than ever are now watching videos on smartphones. Seventy percent of mobile traffic will be video traffic until 2018. In this video, Huawei's exports give their insights on mobile video in terms of business model, network planning and 4G network construction.
LRTV Documentaries
The Rise of Industry 4.0

3|24|15   |   02:26   |   (8) comments


Are you ready for the fourth industrial revolution? It's a big deal for influential operators such as Deutsche Telekom.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Getting Connected With eLTE

3|23|15   |   06:04   |   (0) comments


Trunked radio communications have entered the 4G LTE world, and with Huawei's eLTE solution, can now deliver a full range of data and video services as well as push-to-talk voice, explains Huawei's Norman Frisch.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Funkwerk’s on Track With Huawei

3|19|15   |   3:23   |   (0) comments


GSM-R technology specialist Funkwerk and Huawei have forged a partnership that is benefiting both parties, notes Funkwerk's Gottfried Winter.
LRTV Documentaries
How EANTC Tested Cisco's Virtualization Solutions

3|18|15   |   5:49   |   (0) comments


Carsten Rossenhövel, managing director of independent test lab EANTC, tells Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the innovative approach his team had to take when validating Cisco's service provider virtualization and cloud solutions.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Converged Communications: Working Simply & Smartly

3|17|15   |   03.24   |   (0) comments


Edwin Diender, CTO of Huawei's Enterprise Switch & Communications division, outlines the four main pillars of Huawei's unified communications portfolio and explains how the addition of 4K video capabilities has helped Huawei develop a groundbreaking videoconferencing solution.
Upcoming Live Events
April 14, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City, NY
May 5, 2015, Hyatt McCormick Place, Chicago, IL
May 6, 2015, Georgia World Congress, Atlanta, GA
May 12, 2015, Grand Hyatt, Denver, CO
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 8, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 10, 2015, Chicago, IL
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Hot Topics
Women in Tech Coming Into Focus
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 3/20/2015
Will Open Source Groups Keep Windows Open?
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 3/20/2015
Google Hires Wall Street's Most Influential Woman as CFO
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 3/24/2015
The Rise of Industry 4.0
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 3/24/2015
Net Neutrality Suits: Only The Beginning?
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 3/24/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
LR CEO and Founder Steve Saunders sits down with the head of Qosmos to talk about the changing state of the art in deep packet inspection technology, including its role in SDN and NFV architectures.
Chattanooga’s EPB publicly owned utility comms company has become a poster child for how to enable a local economy using next-gen networking technology. Steve Saunders, Founder of Light Reading, sits down with Harold DePriest, president and CEO of EPB, to learn how EPB is bringing big time tech to small town America.
Cats with Phones
More Is More Click Here
T-Mobile's Buy One Get One Free deal was too much for Fluffy to pass up. He decided more was more.
Latest Comment