Fresh from an $8.8 billion profit last year, much-maligned Chinese tech giant Huawei is touting yet more growth. The firm said today that revenue in the first quarter of 2019 grew 39 percent year-on-year to reach $26.78 billion, or 179.7 billion CNY.
The company claims it is owned by its employees -- although a recent academic paper challenged that. While it isn't listed publicly, it declares yearly business figures that are audited by KPMG and now, for the first time, it has given out quarterly numbers. These appear unaudited and they are certainly provided selectively.
For Q1, Huawei didn't reveal a net profit but it said that its net profit margin was eight percent, which is "slightly higher" than the same time in the previous year. During the quarter, Huawei said it shipped 59 million smartphones, while it added that, as of the end of March, it had signed 40 commercial 5G contracts and shipped more than 70,000 base stations to support 5G networks worldwide.
"2019 will be a year of large-scale deployment of 5G around the world, meaning that Huawei's Carrier Business Group has unprecedented opportunities for growth," the company said.
That's about all it is saying about its top-end figures. You can refer back to those 2018 numbers to get an idea of where the company is headed -- in short: further into the consumer device space.
Huawei's annual revenue increased by 19.5 percent year-on-year to 721 billion CNY, or $107.4 billion, in 2018 as smartphones and other devices became its largest source of income.
Huawei said revenue from the consumer business rose by 45 percent to reach 349 billion CNY ($52 billion), while sales from its carrier business dropped 1.3 percent to 294 billion CNY, or $43.8 billion. Enterprise services accounted for the remaining 74.4 billion CNY.
Huawei's end of year financials show its consumer devices business is now its main money-maker
That consumer push isn't a huge surprise given the hostility to Huawei's traditional networking and carrier business from the U.S. and other Western governments.
Still, the Chinese company has fought back against a ban on its equipment in the U.S. through a lawsuit arguing that federal agencies and contractors have violated due process and acted in a way that is unconstitutional. Still, the U.S. concern around national security has been fortified by a recent U.K. government report that claimed there are "significant technical issues" around adopting its telecom network kit.
The report, prepared for the National Security Advisor of the U.K. by the Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre (HCSEC) Oversight Board, said it has "not yet seen anything to give it confidence in Huawei’s capacity to successfully complete the elements of its transformation programme that it has proposed as a means of addressing these underlying defects."
The original version of this story has been updated to note that this is the first time Huawei has announced quarterly numbers.