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Huawei posts year-on-year gains, but commercial prospects look limited

Huawei has posted its financial results for the first half of 2020 with year-on-year increases across the board as total revenues exceed $64 billion.

With a 13.1% year-on-year revenue jump for the business, some might assume there is little to be concerned about, though that is certainly not the case. Pressure is mounting on European governments, many of which are facing increasing aggressive demands from the White House to clear Chinese components and products from network infrastructure.

Despite trends working against the Chinese telecoms champion, figures on the spreadsheets are at least heading in the right direction.

Revenues by business unit (CNY)
Segment 2019 H1 2020 H1
Enterprise 31.6 billion 36.3 billion
Consumer 220.8 billion 255.6 billion
Carrier 146.5 billion 159.6 billion

Looking at the numbers alone, you would think this is a business on the up and up. Admittedly growth is not the same as previous years, but the world has been navigating through a complicated coronavirus pandemic. However, we know there are bigger story arcs in play here.

Pressure from the US Government is building on European counterparts. The UK is one market which appears on the verge of excluding Huawei and other ‘high risk vendors’ from network infrastructure, and it would surprise few if more dominos toppled. The world might start getting a lot smaller for Huawei despite the desire of European telcos to work with the vendor.

One question which remains is whether it actually matters. China is a big enough market for anyone to be profitable without meandering beyond the borders, estimates suggest 60% of RAN products will be bought by Chinese telecoms operators, but Huawei wants to be the world’s telecoms champion.

We suspect the numbers being listed above are underpinned by aggressive 5G deployment in China, as slowdowns can be seen across the world thanks to COVID-19 and the on-going political jostling. It remains to be seen how much of a financial impact the loss of international contracts will be.

Over the next few months, there could be some big changes in Europe for Huawei. Exclusion from UK networks seems to be a matter of when not if nowadays, while Deutsche Telekom has been distancing itself from the vendor and French politicians seem on the verge of providing some sort of Huawei ceiling. Add this to its limited activity in Korea, India and the Nordics, as well as exclusions in Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the US, and being overlooked in Canada. Prospects are not as prosperous as some may assume.

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