Huawei becomes less transparent as growth slows

Industry News

Besieged Chinese telecoms giant Huawei grew its revenues by 9.9% in the first nine months of this year, much less than the 24% of the tear-ago period.

Huawei is not a public company, so it’s not really obliged to publish any of its numbers, but it does so anyway, when it’s in the mood. This quarter it offered somewhat sparse fare, presumably because the numbers are going in the wrong direction. So we know it has banked CNY671.3 billion ($100 billion) so far this year and that its net profit margin over that period was 8%. That’s all you get this time, and be grateful for that.

There weren’t any canned quotes, which is no great loss since all you get out of Huawei spokespeople these days is generic comments about how important technology and competition is. The short press release did yield some minor insights into Huawei’s corporate frame of mind, however.

“As the world grapples with COVID-19, Huawei’s global supply chain is being put under intense pressure and its production and operations face significant challenges,” it said. “The company continues to do its best to find solutions, survive and forge forward, and fulfil its obligations to customers and suppliers.”

The COVID stuff feels like a smokescreen for what Huawei really wanted to refer to – the US action against it. The fact that Huawei chose to refer to survival serves to cement that feeling, as does talk of a phoenix rising from the flames in the video below. And Chinese media seem to agree.

The FT reckons growth for the third quarter itself was a mere 3.7%, down from 27% a year ago. Given that, in the same quarter, Ericsson attributed much of its own Q3 revenue growth to China’s 5G rollout, which Huawei has a much bigger piece of, it seems safe to assume the smartphone side of things is a bit of a car crash at the moment. No wonder Huawei didn’t offer the revenue split by division this time.

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