Light Reading
Margins and share price are up, costs are down, and a buyer for the Enterprise division has been found as the Shift Plan kicks in.

Alcatel-Lucent Shifts Up a Gear to End 2013

Ray Le Maistre
2/6/2014
50%
50%

This could be a landmark year for Alcatel-Lucent, if the vendor can maintain the momentum it built up in 2013.

The company, which is in the midst of a major restructuring program (The Shift Plan), today reported improving margins for the fourth quarter and full year 2013 and announced it had found a buyer for its Enterprise division, one of the non-core units it is looking to offload so it can focus on its IP-based networking and managed services portfolio. (See Alcatel-Lucent Builds Future Around IP and Alcatel-Lucent Unveils Shift Plan.)

That buyer is Beijing-based communications systems supplier China Huaxin, which has struck a binding offer to acquire an 85% stake that values the Enterprise business at 268 million (US$362 million), while Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) will retain a 15% stake. The deal is expected to close in the third quarter, once all the necessary negotiations and approval processes are complete. (See Euronews: Is Alcatel-Lucent's Enterprise Unit Sale Back On?)

AlcaLu recently announced the sale of another non-core business unit. (See AlcaLu Sells US Unit for $200M.)

On the financial front, AlcaLu reported improved gross and operating margins for the fourth quarter and full year, and even announced a net profit for the fourth quarter of 134 million ($182.4 million), though its sales were down year-on-year for the fourth quarter and flat for the full year. (See Alcatel-Lucent Reports Q4, Full-Year Results, though note that the sales growth percentages in the official release are for constant currency exchange rates that appear at odds with the reported numbers.)

Table 1: Alcatel-Lucent Q4 & Full-Year 2013 Key Financials

In millions Q4 2013 Q4 2012 Full Year 2013 Full Year 2012
Revenues 3,930 4,096 14,436 14,449
Gross margin 34.3% 30.4% 32.2% 30.0%
Operating margin 7.8% 2.8% 2.0% -1.8%
Net income 134 -1,558 -1,304 -2,011
Source: Alcatel-Lucent

The company noted that it had achieved fixed-cost savings of 363 million ($494 million) during 2013, higher than forecast. Much of those savings came from cutting staff: The company's headcount at the end of 2013 was about 64,000, down by 12,000 from a year earlier. (See Alcatel-Lucent to Cut 10,000 Jobs.)

The lower cost base and improving margins appeared to cheer AlcaLu's investors, as the vendor's share price rose by 12.9% to 3.42 on the Paris exchange, though some financial commentators put some of that down to short sellers (who have gambled against a recovery) looking to cover their positions.

But there's no doubt that the company still has plenty of work to do, a fact highlighted by a dip in year-on-year revenues for the company's flagship IP Routing unit, part of its Core networking division. While delivering an impressive 555 million ($755.5 million) in revenues in the fourth quarter, it represented a dip from the 619 million ($842.6 million) reported a year earlier.

For the year, though, that particular line of business generated revenues of 2.25 billion ($3.07 billion), up more than 5% from 2012. And CEO Michel Combes moved quickly to allay any fears that the router business might be stalling by expressing his confidence that further growth is more than possible: On today's earnings conference call he noted that he expected double-digit revenues growth from the sale of edge and core routers -- including those used in mobile evolved packet core deployments -- in 2014. "We expect to grow faster than the market," he noted.

He also told investors and analysts that he expected operator capex in North America to remain "robust" this year, "at least comparable" to 2013 spending levels. And, of course, some of that spending is set to go to Alcatel-Lucent from Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), which recently selected the vendor as a key optical transport supplier. (See Analyst: Infinera Loses VZ Deal to AlcaLu.)

Combes kicked back suggestions that AlcaLu had landed that deal by undercutting its rivals. He said the deal was won because of the deep and trusting relationship with Verizon and "the strength of the product."

Combes is also hoping to pick up some new business from Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) as it starts to invest in its European network upgrades and expansion. (See Vodafone Ups 'Project Spring' Capex to $11B+.)

The CEO noted that AlcaLu is in "close discussions" with Vodafone (along with all other major suppliers) and that he expects to "get some benefit" from Vodafone's spending plans. He is also confident that Vodafone's plans will force other European operators to increase their investments to remain competitive and that the market across Europe would grow as a result.

Combes also expects to book sales from the second wave of 4G network investments in China this year and benefit from ongoing and new spending in mobile broadband rollouts in North America (from Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) and T-Mobile US Inc. , as long as M&A doesn't get in the way) and also from LTE investments in Europe. "We also expect to see early movement in the market for small cells" in 2014, he noted, without expanding on exactly what that movement might entail. (See How Heavy Reading Called Small Cells Right.)

Not everyone is bullish about Alcatel-Lucent's financial trajectory, though: Combes still has a lot of convincing to do. (See Short Shift: Analyst Doubts AlcaLu's Cost-Cutting Ability.)

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

(5)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Telecom_BDB
50%
50%
Telecom_BDB,
User Rank: Light Beer
2/7/2014 | 10:31:50 AM
Re: Enterprise sale
FIrst step of the Chinese government, as Huaxin is state owned, to enter into ALU and to get a better grip on the American telecom market ?
DOShea
50%
50%
DOShea,
User Rank: Blogger
2/6/2014 | 9:29:14 PM
Enterprise sale
This sale definitely counts as progress, considering ALU couldn't manage to shed those assets a few years ago when it tried. The buyer sounds like a surprise--in earlier reports, the Siemens/Gores Group JV Unify was mentioned as a likely buyer.
R Clark
50%
50%
R Clark,
User Rank: Blogger
2/6/2014 | 8:43:15 PM
Re: Heading in right direction
So far so good. Looks like they have costs under control but they have more to squeeze out, plus core networking revenue, their prime business, shrank 4%. They need to find an extra 15% over next two years to meet their target.
rgrutza600
100%
0%
rgrutza600,
User Rank: Lightning
2/6/2014 | 7:07:26 PM
Re: Heading in right direction
It reads like he completely evaded the question regarding Verizon deal pricing. From CC transcript:

 

Sébastien Sztabowicz - Kepler Cheuvreux, Research Division

One last question, if I may. On the Verizon deal in Optics, some are speculating that you may have gained this deal at the expense of prices. What is your answer there?

Michel Combes - Chief Executive Officer and Director

I guess that you will see the answer in our accounts. What I have said since the beginning, what we are shooting for is profitable growth. So don't expect from us to deviate from this road. I guess that it happens that we had the right product with the right features for Verizon. And so this win has been done and based on the quality of the product and also the quality of the relations that we have with Verizon. I am very proud of this win, which will pave the way for the turnaround of Optics, as we have always discussed altogether in the past few quarters.
Ray@LR
50%
50%
Ray@LR,
User Rank: Blogger
2/6/2014 | 3:25:56 PM
Heading in right direction
It seems that, in terms of fiscal health and longer-term survival, ALU is heading in the right direction.

But if it's true that ALU won the VZON optical deal with a 'competitive' bid, those margins might not carry on heading the right direction...
Flash Poll
LRTV Custom TV
A New Security Paradigm in SDN/NFV

7|28|14   |   02:54   |   (0) comments


Paul Shaneck, Global Director Network Solutions for Symantec, discusses the evolving virtualized network, explaining how Symantec is leading the security discussion as it relates to SDN and NFV, and helping to ensure the network is protected and compliant.
LRTV Documentaries
Sprint's Network Evolution

7|24|14   |   14:59   |   (0) comments


Sprint's Jay Bluhm gives a keynote speech at the Big Telecom Event (BTE) about Sprint's network and services evolution strategy, including Spark.
LRTV Documentaries
BTE Keynote: The Software-Defined Operator

7|24|14   |   18:43   |   (1) comment


Deutsche Telekom's Axel Clauberg explains the concept of the software-defined operator to the Big Telecom Event (BTE) crowd.
Light Reedy
Numbers Are In: LR's 2014 Salary Survey

7|24|14   |   1:25   |   (7) comments


Our fourth annual Salary Survey paints a picture of who's hiring, firing, earning, and yearning for a change in the telecom industry.
LRTV Custom TV
Driving the Network Transformation

7|23|14   |   4:29   |   (0) comments


Intel's Sandra Rivera discusses network transformation and how Intel technologies, programs, and standards body efforts have helped the industry migration to SDN and NFV.
LRTV Custom TV
Distributed NFV-Based Business Services by RAD

7|18|14   |   5:38   |   (0) comments


With the ETSI-approved Distributed NFV PoC running in the background, RAD's CEO, Dror Bin, talks about why D-NFV makes compelling sense for service providers, and about the dollars and cents RAD is putting behind D-NFV.
LRTV Custom TV
MRV Accelerating Packet Optical Convergence

7|15|14   |   6:06   |   (0) comments


Giving you network insight to make your network smarter.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV-Enabled Ethernet for Generating New Revenues

7|15|14   |   5:49   |   (0) comments


Cyan's Planet Orchestrate allows service providers and their end-customers to activate software-based capabilities such as firewalls and encryption on top of existing Ethernet services in just minutes.
LRTV Custom TV
Symkloud NVF-Ready Video Transcoding, Big Data

7|9|14   |   3:41   |   (0) comments


Kontron and ISV partner Vantrix demonstrate high-performance video transcoding and data analytic solutions on same 2U standard platform that is ready for SDN and NFV deployments made by mobile, cable and cloud operators.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Evolving Role of Hybrid Video for Competitive Success

7|4|14   |   4:09   |   (0) comments


At Huawei's Global Analysts Summit in Shenzhen, China, Steven C. Hawley from TV Strategies speaks to us about the evolving role of hybrid video for competitive success.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
How CSPs Leverage Big Data in the Digital Economy

7|4|14   |   4:48   |   (2) comments


Justin van der Lande from Analysys Mason shares with us his views on how telecom operators can leverage customer asset monetization with big data. His discusses the current status of big data applications and the challenges and opportunities for telecom operators in the digital economy era.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Accelerator for Digital Business Future Oriented BSS

7|4|14   |   3:08   |   (0) comments


Mobile and internet are becoming intertwined; IT and CT are integrating; and leading CSPs have begun to transform to information service and entertainment providers. How should the BSS system evolve to enable this transformation? Karl Whitelock, an analyst at Frost & Sullivan, shares his views.
Upcoming Live Events!!
September 16, 2014, Santa Clara, CA
September 16, 2014, Santa Clara, CA
October 29, 2014, New York City
November 6, 2014, Santa Clara
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
Packet Design asks network professionals how they handle the cloud, SDN, and network management.
Today's Cartoon
Vacation Special Caption Competition Click Here
Latest Comment
Hot Topics
The Municipal Menace?
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Utility Communications/IoT, 7/22/2014
Cisco Puts a Fog Over IoT
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 7/23/2014
Apple Earnings: Strong iPhone Sales, iPad Sales Slump, $7.8B Profit
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 7/22/2014
Salary Survey Report 2014
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 7/23/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed