& cplSiteName &

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        ADD A COMMENT
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: Light Sabre
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...
From The Founder
Light Reading today starts a new voyage as part of a larger Enterprise.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Interviews
Cox Clears $2B in Business Revenue

12|8|16   |     |   (0) comments


Cox's Jeff Breaux discusses how the third-largest US MSO will reach the $2 billion revenue mark this year and plans to hit $3 billion by 2021
LRTV Interviews
Can Cable Climb Upmarket?

12|7|16   |     |   (0) comments


Carol Wilson and Alan Breznick assess cable's prospects for winning more enterprises in a landscape rocked by corporate M&A activity.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
TalkTalk Exec: Find Your North Star at Work

12|7|16   |   3:38   |   (1) comment


Women need to find their purpose, a professional North Star, and create a personal board for themselves, according to Alex Tempest, director of partners at TalkTalk Business.
LRTV Interviews
Verizon: Beware Unknown Unknowns

12|7|16   |   04:58   |   (0) comments


Chris Novak, director of the Verizon Enterprise Solutions Risk Team, explains that enterprises who don't conduct a thorough audit of their assets often leave some things unprotected because they don't know they exist. Many times these unprotected assets are part of corporate M&A activity but left unshielded they can become a hacker's playground, he tells Light ...
LRTV Interviews
ETSI's CTO Talks NFV, 5G & NGP

12|5|16   |   09:45   |   (0) comments


Adrian Scrase, CTO at standards body ETSI, talks about the various initiatives and specifications developments related to NFV, 5G and NGP (next-generation protocols) that will underpin next-gen networks.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Korn Ferry Consultant: How to Find, Cultivate & Be the Best Talent

11|30|16   |   4:10   |   (2) comments


Erin Callaghan, a managing consultant for Korn Ferry Futurestep, shares strategies for companies to improve how they recruit and for women to ensure they don't get lost in the pipeline.
LRTV Custom TV
We Can Make the World More Sustainable

11|29|16   |     |   (0) comments


GeSI is a global e-Sustainability Initiative organization bringing together 40 big multinational companies around the world. According to GeSI's report, information and communication technology can make the world more sustainable. Luis Neves, chairman of GeSI, shared with us his opinion at Ultra-broadband Forum (UBBF2016).
LRTV Custom TV
Finding a New Way to Engage Customers & Drive Revenue

11|29|16   |     |   (0) comments


Mobile revenues are declining. Digicel, a player in the Caribbean telecommunications/entertainment space, has found a new way to engage customers and drive revenue. John Quinn, CTO of Digicel, shared with us its story at Ultra-broadband Forum (UBBF2016)
LRTV Custom TV
Do You Really Need Gigabit Infrastructure?

11|29|16   |     |   (0) comments


Altibox is the biggest fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) player and the largest provider of video and TV in Norway. They started out with zero customers in 2002. Now they have close to half a million households and companies attached to their FTTH business. Nils Arne, CEO of Altibox shared with us their story and insight on 5G at Ultra-broadband Forum (UBBF2016).
LRTV Custom TV
BT’s Openreach Strategy & Its Updates in 2016

11|29|16   |     |   (0) comments


A lot of developments at Openreach this year in terms of strategy and planned investments. Peter Bell, CIO of Openreach BT, shared with us the updates of Openreach at Ultra-broadband Forum (UBBF2016).
LRTV Custom TV
ITU: The Broadband Is Our Future

11|29|16   |     |   (0) comments


At Ultra-broadband Forum, Houlin Zhao, Secretary General of ITU, discussed how important it is for countries, companies and everybody to be working together to help to build the broadband and digital economies (UBBF2016).
LRTV Custom TV
Tackling 5G in Dallas

11|28|16   |     |   (0) comments


Here are our highlights of the 5G North America show in Dallas, Texas with Light Reading's Dan Jones.
Upcoming Live Events
May 16-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Hot Topics
Cable Nodes Becoming a Choke Point
Brian Santo, Senior editor, Test & Measurement / Components, Light Reading, 12/5/2016
WiCipedia: After-School Coding, Salary Probing & Pro-Parenthood Companies
Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor, 12/2/2016
Consolidated Snaps Up Fairpoint for $1.5B
Iain Morris, News Editor, 12/5/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Eyal Waldman, CEO of Mellanox Technologies, speaks to Steve Saunders, CEO of Light Reading, for an exclusive interview about the 100 GB cable challenge, cybersecurity and much more.
Join us for an in-depth interview between Steve Saunders of Light Reading and Alexis Black Bjorlin of Intel as they discuss the release of the company's Silicon Photonics platform, its performance, long-term prospects, customer expectations and much more.
Animals with Phones
A Mobile Safari Click Here
Literally.
Latest Comment
Live Digital Audio

Even when there's a strong pipeline of female talent in the comms industry, it tends to leak all the way to the top. McKinsey & Company says women experience pipeline leakage at three primary points: being unable to enter, being stuck in the middle or being locked out of the top. Each pipeline pain point presents its own challenges, but also opportunities to stop the leak. Wireless operator Sprint is making a conscious effort to improve its own pipeline from new recruits to the C-suite, and it wants the rest of the industry to do the same. In this Women in Comms radio show, WiC Board Member and Sprint Vice President of Enterprise Sales Nelly Pitocco will give us her take on the industry's pipeline challenges. Pitocco, who joined Sprint in May and has spent 20 years in the comms industry, will also offer solutions, share how Sprint is tackling the challenge within its own organization and take your questions live on air.