Huawei Profit Surges 564%, Biting Into Apple Sales

(MENAFN- Gulf Times) Tech giant Huawei's first-quarter profits surged over fivefold year-on-year, a company filing showed yesterday, as the US-sanctioned firm continues a rebound and bit into competitor Apple's sales in China.
Huawei has long found itself caught in the middle of an intense technological rivalry between Beijing and Washington, which has warned the firm's equipment could be used for Chinese espionage operations - allegations denied by Huawei.
Sanctions imposed by Washington in 2019 restricting the company's access to US-made components greatly inhibited Huawei's production of smartphones at the time.
The Shenzhen-based company has since responded by diversifying into other fields including 5G, artificial intelligence and smart-driving technology in a bid to rescue flagging sales.
Net profit in the January-March period amounted to $2.7bn, up 564% from the first quarter of last year, according to a results filing by Huawei's holding company on an official website and confirmed by a representative of the firm.
Revenue during the period also rose 36.7% year-on-year to reach $24.7bn, the filing showed.
It did not break down profits by sector.
Huawei is a private, unlisted company, and is therefore not subject to the same obligations as other major firms to publish detailed results.
The firm unveiled the Mate 60 Pro last summer, a high-performance smartphone equipped with a chip that experts say would be impossible to produce without foreign technologies, questioning the effectiveness of US restrictions.
In an apparent snub to Washington, the Mate 60's August 2023 announcement coincided with a visit to China by Gina Raimondo, head of the US Department of Commerce which was responsible for the sanctions.
Huawei competitor Apple saw iPhone sales slump by 19% in the first quarter in China, Bloomberg reported, citing market research firm Counterpoint.
The latest earnings report comes a month after Huawei said its profits more than doubled in 2023, a year in which the smartphone maker continued its efforts to diversify.
Revenue growth in the first quarter was achieved by“seizing opportunities in digitalization, intelligence, and decarbonization”, a Huawei representative told AFP, adding:“the industry and global markets will remain rife with uncertainty for the rest of 2024”.
“We are confident that we can meet our annual business targets and achieve sustainable growth,” the representative added in a statement.
Tensions between Beijing and Washington remain high as the world's two largest economies lock horns over everything from trade to the self-ruled island of Taiwan, which is claimed by China.
The US has urged allies to follow its lead in banning Huawei's 5G technology from domestic telecommunications networks, arguing that China could use it to monitor communications and data traffic in other countries.
Air France-KLM
Higher costs, geopolitical tensions and weak freight demand pushed Air France-KLM into a deeper first quarter loss despite a rise in passengers who paid more for their tickets, the airline said yesterday.
While the January through March quarter is traditionally soft for European airlines, the €522mn net loss ($560mn) was wider than the €344mn it lost during the same period last year and worse than analyst expectations.
The airline group's shares, which were already at their lowest level for the past decade, fell by more than 3% on the Paris stock exchange after the results were announced.
Despite the quarterly loss, the airline maintained its annual financial targets, pointing to solid reservations for the start of the summer vacation season. Last year, it posted a record annual profit of €934mn.
The group, which includes Air France, KLM and low-cost carrier Transavia, said it transported 6.2% more passengers than during the same quarter last year, at 20.9mn, and brought in more revenue per passenger.
Overall revenues climbed 5.1% to €6.7bn.
However, higher costs pulled down operating results by €243mn.
A deal with Dutch staff also added €50mn to costs.
The airline said supply chain problems meant it had trouble sourcing parts for its plane engines, leaving planes unavailable for flights.
Other areas have also been affected by supply chain problems.
A weak air freight market also hobbled Air France-KLM results, with cargo revenues down 16.5% despite slightly more freight carried during the quarter.
McDonald's reported a modest increase in quarterly profits yesterday as higher sales in the US offset the continued hit from conflict in the Middle East.
The big fast-food chain experienced a dip in comparable sales in“International Developmental Licensed Markets,” which comprises emerging markets.
“The continued impact of the war in the Middle East more than offset positive comparable sales in Japan, Latin America and Europe,” McDonald's said of the division.
The chain scored higher comparable sales in the US - where results were boosted by“strategic” price increases - and in the“International Operated Markets” division, where gains in Britain and Germany compensated for negative sales in France.
Overall, profits in the first quarter rose 7% to $1.9bn on a 5% increase in revenues to $6.2bn.
Strong demand for its retro-style Gazelle and Samba sneakers helped drive Adidas' strong first-quarter growth, especially in its home market of Europe, the company said yesterday, as the company moves on from its damaging break-up with rapper Ye.
While its home market saw growth, North America was a weak spot as retailers remain overstocked, the German sportswear brand said.
Adidas has been on a turnaround journey since the cancelled partnership with Ye ended its highly profitable Yeezy shoe line and it reported a loss for 2023, but the company's sales have recently been boosted by the popularity of its“terrace” shoes such as the Samba and Gazelle.
Adidas CEO Bjorn Gulden said the lifestyle business drove sales in the first quarter, and that demand for terrace shoes was still growing, helping drive sales up 14% in Europe.
“The demand for our product, especially in footwear is very, very high in our home market,” Gulden told reporters on a call.
Overall, Adidas' footwear revenue jumped by 13% over the quarter.
“Adidas has gone from the one no-one wanted to touch to the brand that has all the positive momentum behind it,” said Marcus Morris-Eyton, portfolio manager at AllianceBernstein, which holds Adidas shares in its European Growth fund.
Adidas has taken advantage of a weakening of its much larger US rival Nike, which has lost market share and warned of a sales dip.
Adidas sales grew by 8% in China, while sales in North America, its second-biggest market, declined 4% to €1.12bn ($1.20bn). In the US, like others Adidas has been struggling with excess stock and has cut prices to move products off retailers' shelves.
“The American business is more difficult to turn around quick than the other markets,” Gulden said.
Spanish banking giant Santander said yesterday it is on track to meet its 2024 targets after posting a double-digit rise in its first-quarter net profit due to a strong retail banking performance.
Spain's leading bank booked a net profit of €2.85bn ($3bn) during the first three months of 2024, up 11% from the same time last year.
Like other European banks, Santander has benefited from a sharp rise in interest rates.
Net interest income - the difference between what a lender earns on loans and what it pays clients for deposits - jumped 18% to reach nearly €12bn in the first quarter“driven by growth in all businesses, particularly in retail”.
“It has been a very strong start to the year, with revenues growing ten % and further improvement in operating leverage,” Santander executive chairwoman Ana Botin said in a statement.
“We are, once again, well on track to meet all our targets for the year,” she added.
Santander, which has a strong presence in Europe and Latin America, is targeting“mid-single-digit” revenue growth in 2024.
It posted a record net profit last year of €11.1bn, a 15% jump over the €9.6bn it earned in 2022.
German auto manufacturer Mercedes-Benz yesterday said profits fell significantly in the first quarter as supplier issues hit luxury car sales.
Net profit in the first three months of the year dropped 24.6% compared with the same period in 2023, down to €3bn ($3.2bn) from €34bn.
The figure was better than a prediction by analysts surveyed by financial data firm FactSet, who had forecast a figure of €2.8bn.
Revenues in the first quarter fell by 4.4% to €35.9bn as a result of the sales hit.
Mercedes said in a statement its performance had been boosted by“lower raw material prices, tight cost control” and a strong performance in its vans division.
Revenues in the utility vehicles segment were up 6% in the first quarter to €4.9bn.
The increase propelled a 22.4% rise in the division's operating profit to €933mn- a closely watched measure of underlying performance.
The strength of the van business however failed to offset a difficult quarter for the group's core car unit.
A first-quarter drop of 7.5% in revenues, which fell to €25.7bn, was down to“supplier bottlenecks and model changeovers in the top-end segment”, the group said.
Looking ahead, Mercedes kept its outlook unchanged, saying it expected supply issues to ease over the course of the year.
“Sales levels in the first quarter are seen as the trough, with second quarter volumes expected to be better,” the group said.
Banking giant HSBC said yesterday that pre-tax profits in the first quarter fell by $200mn to $12.7bn.“We completed the sale of our Canada business and agreed the sale of our Argentina business, both of which allow us to focus on markets with higher value international opportunities,” said chief executive Noel Quinn, who the bank added would retire after nearly five years in the role.
Samsung Electronics
Samsung Electronics said yesterday that its first-quarter operating profits had risen nearly tenfold year-on-year amid recovering chip prices and growing demand, notably for generative AI.
The firm is the flagship subsidiary of South Korean giant Samsung Group, by far the largest of the family-controlled conglomerates that dominate business in Asia's fourth-largest economy.
“Operating profit increased to KRW 6.61tn ($4.85bn) as the Memory Business returned to profit by addressing demand for high value-added products,” it said in a statement.
Strong smartphone sales, higher prices for semiconductors plus a focus on high-value-added products including HBM - the high-bandwidth memory used in AI hardware - were key to the strong performance, it said.
“Looking ahead to the second quarter, the industry is expected to remain solid, led mainly by demand for generative AI,” the company added.
Sales were up 12.8% on-year to 71.9tn won, the company said.
“Demand for on device AIs and high resolution features continues to drive our production,” said Tommy Kwon, vice president of Samsung's system LSI business, on an earnings conference call.
The weakness of the Korean won - down nearly 7% against the US dollar so far this year -“resulted in a positive impact on company-wide operating profit of about KRW 0.3tn compared to the previous quarter,” Samsung added.
Samsung's net profit of 6.75tn won exceeded market expectations, which had been estimated at 4.99tn won, according to a survey conducted by the financial data firm Yonhap Infomax.
South Korean chipmakers, led by Samsung, enjoyed record profits in recent years as prices for their products soared, but a global economic slowdown dealt a blow to memory chip sales.
However, the semiconductor market had been predicted to recover this year and grow 11.8 %, according to industry monitor World Semiconductor Trade Statistics.
Major Chinese electric carmaker BYD reported lower-than-expected revenue for the first quarter of 2024 on Monday, as an aggressive domestic price war and Western regulatory pressure weighed on the company's growth.
BYD posted an operating revenue of 124.94bn yuan ($17.25bn) for the first three months of the year, up 3.97% from a year ago, according to a stock exchange filing.
Bloomberg analysts had predicted a quarterly revenue of 132.53bn yuan.
The Shenzhen-based company is moving quickly overseas - including into Southeast Asian countries but also further afield in Latin America and Europe - as a price war continues to be waged in China, the world's largest automotive market.
BYD overtook Elon Musk's Tesla in the fourth quarter of 2023 to become the world's top seller of electric vehicles. Tesla reclaimed that title in the first quarter of this year, but BYD remains firmly on top in its home market.
The Chinese automaker recorded a record annual profit of 30bn yuan last year.
Its profit in the first quarter was 4.57bn yuan, up 10.62% from a year ago, BYD said on Monday.
BYD said its research and development and marketing expenses had shot up in the first quarter due to an“increase in advertising and exhibition expenses and depreciation and amortization”, as well as higher“material consumption”.
China has led the global transition to electric vehicles, with almost 1 in 3 cars on Chinese roads set to be electric by 2030, according to the International Energy Agency's annual Global EV Outlook published last week.
There are a staggering 129 EV brands in China, but just 20 have managed to achieve a domestic market share of one % or more, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Rival brands have sought in recent months to undercut each other's prices, offering customers built-in gadgets and trendy customisation options at lower and lower pricetags.
Meanwhile European regulators are raising the alarm on what they describe as Chinese industrial“overcapacity” created by excessive state subsidies, which could flood global markets with cheap vehicles.


Gulf Times

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