Ericsson reports first quarter results 2018

First quarter highlights (In 2017, certain items affecting comparability had a significant negative impact on the results.) 

  • Reported sales decreased by -9% YoY. Sales, adjusted for currency, decreased by -2% YoY with lower revenues in market areas North East Asia as well as in South East Asia, Oceania and India. The other market areas showed growth.
  • Gross margin was 34.2% (15.7%) 1). Gross margin excluding restructuring charges improved YoY, to 35.9% (18.7%) 1), supported by cost reductions and the continued ramp-up of Ericsson Radio System (ERS).
  • Operating income (loss) was SEK -0.3 (-11.3) b. Operating income (loss) excluding restructuring charges was SEK 0.9 (-9.5) b.
  • Networks operating margin excluding restructuring charges was 13.5% (12.8%) 1) with strong gross margin and increased investments in R&D.
  • Digital Services gross margin excluding restructuring charges improved YoY, to 41.4% (-25.5%) 1), driven by improved services margins as a result of cost reductions. Operating income (loss) excluding restructuring charges was SEK -2.0 (-8.8) b.
  • Managed Services operating margin excluding restructuring charges was 1.9% (-28.7%) 1) as a result of cost reductions and customer contract reviews.
  • Cash flow from operating activities was SEK 1.6 (-1.5) b. and free cash flow was SEK 0.3 (-3.2) b. Net cash increased YoY to SEK 35.6 (28.3) b.

1) Write-down of assets as well as provisions and adjustments related to certain customer projects had a significant negative impact on the 2017 results. In addition, a restate of 2016 and 2017 numbers has been made following IFRS 15 introduction.


SEK b.
Q1
2018
Q1
2017
YoY
change
Q4
2017
QoQ
change
Net sales 43.4 47.8 -9% 57.9 -25%
Sales growth adj. for comparable units and currency - - -2% - -24%
Gross margin 34.2% 15.7% - 21.6% -
Operating income (loss) -0.3 -11.3 - -19.3 -
Operating margin -0.7% -23.6% - -33.3% -
Net income (loss) -0.7 -10.0 - -18.5 -
EPS diluted, SEK -0.25 -3.08 - -5.63 -
EPS (non-IFRS), SEK 1) 0.11 -2.19 - -1.09 -
Cash flow from operating activities 1.6 -1.5 - 11.2 -86%
Free cash flow 2) 0.3 -3.2 - 10.1 -97%
Net cash, end of period 35.6 28.3 26% 34.7 3%
Gross margin excluding restructuring charges 35.9% 18.7% - 25.1% -
Operating income (loss) excluding restructuring charges 0.9 -9.5 - -16.9 -
Operating margin excluding restructuring charges 2.0% -19.9% - -29.1% -

1) EPS diluted, excl. amortizations and write-downs of acquired intangible assets, and excluding restructuring charges. When a company reports a loss, the number of shares used for calculating earnings diluted per share shall be the same as for basic calculation.
2) Free cash flow: Cash flow from operating activities less net capital expenditures and other investments, see APMs at the end of the report.

Non-IFRS financial measures are reconciled to the most directly reconcilable line items in the financial statements at the end of this report.

Comments from Börje Ekholm, President and CEO of Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC)

We have continued to execute on our focused business strategy creating solutions that help our customers improve their business. Our efforts to improve efficiency in service delivery and common costs are starting to pay off. The gross margin1) improved to 36% (19%) in the quarter, tracking well towards our Group target of 37-39% by 2020.

A cornerstone in our strategy is to invest in R&D for both technology leadership and cost leadership, which will allow us to generate higher gross margins. We continue to increase our R&D investments in Networks to lead in 5G. In Digital Services we continue to increase investments into our new cloud-native portfolio as well as changing our ways of working for better R&D efficiency. In Managed Services we continue to focus on machine intelligence, automation and analytics to further enhance user experience, improve efficiency and better manage the increasingly complex networks of tomorrow.

In Networks we have seen the portfolio becoming more competitive in the last three quarters of 2017, resulting in market share gains, as reported by external sources. In Networks the gross margin1) improved to 40% (35%). In Digital Services, the gross margin 1) improved to 41% (-25%), supported by cost reductions mainly in service delivery. However, operating income in Digital Services remains challenging. In Managed Services the gross margin1) improved to 9% (-7%) supported by efficiency gains in service delivery and customer contract reviews, resulting in a positive operating income1).

In segment Emerging Business and Other, we are gradually increasing investments in growth areas such as IoT and Unified Delivery Network (UDN). While the combined operating income of Media Solutions and Red Bee Media improved YoY, these businesses showed a loss2) of SEK -0.5 b. in the quarter. We expect to close the announced Media Solutions divestment by the end of the third quarter.

In the quarter we reduced the total workforce by more than 3,000. Since the reduction activities were launched in July last year, we have reduced the total workforce by almost 18,000. To date, the annual run-rate effect of cost savings is approximately SEK 8.5 b., compared with the target of SEK 10 b. for mid-2018. The run-rate reduction does not yet fully impact the quarterly results.

Free cash flow improved to SEK 0.3 (-3.2) b. – another step forward in improving our financial resilience. Net cash was SEK 35.6 (28.3)b.

The improvements in the quarter are encouraging. However, more work remains to be done. We have confidence in the strategic direction laid out and remain fully committed to our long-term targets.

Looking ahead, we expect the rapidly increasing focus on 5G to continue, with initial business discussions focusing on enhanced mobile broadband. We continue to work closely with customers to define the optimal business models to enable them to tap into new revenue streams and capture the full value of 5G.

1) Excluding restructuring charges
2) Excluding restructuring charges and corporate allocations

Planning assumptions going forward

Market related                                                          

  • The Radio Access Network (RAN) equipment market is estimated to decline by -2% for full-year 2018 with 2% CAGR (2018-2022). In 2018, the Chinese market is expected to decline due to reduced LTE investments, while there is positive momentum in North America.

Currency exposure              

  • Rule of thumb: A weakening by 10% of USD to SEK would have a negative impact of approximately -5% on net sales and approximately -1 percentage point on operating margin (based on 2017 full-year currency exposure). For historical rates, see www.ericsson.com/en/investors

Ericsson related

  • 5-year average sales seasonality between Q1 and Q2 is +9%
  • Focusing the business and addressing low-performing operations are expected to reduce full-year sales by up to SEK 10 b. in 2019 compared with 2016.
  • The current revenue baseline of the IPR licensing contract portfolio is approximately SEK 7 b. on an annual basis.
  • The plan is to implement cost savings with an annual run-rate effect of at least SEK 10 b. by mid-2018, compared with the Q2 2017 annual run rate.
  • Operating expenses typically vary between quarters due to seasonality.
  • Restructuring charges for full-year 2018 are estimated to be SEK 5-7 b and slightly higher in Q2 vs Q1.
  • Actual and estimated net impact from amortization and capitalization of development expenses and from recognition and deferral of hardware costs: 
SEK b.  Q1 2018
Actual
 
Q2 2018
Estimate
 
Q2 2017
Actual 
FY 2017
Actual
 
FY 2018
Estimate
 
FY 2019
Estimate 
Cost of sales -0.3 -0.2 -0.4 -2.6 -1
R&D expenses -0.4 -0.4 0.1 -0.3 -2
Total impact -0.7 -0.6 -0.3 -2.9 -3 -1 to -2
  • The divestment of Media Solutions is expected to be closed by the end of Q3 2018. Results will be reported as share of earnings according to the equity method. Ericsson’s holding will be 49% of the shares. Media Solutions sales were SEK 3.2 b. in 2017.
  • Consequences of Q1 and Q2 changes in product responsibilities between segments are described in detail in Financial highlights, page 4 in the complete report.

NOTES TO EDITORS

You find the complete report with tables in the attached PDF or by following this link https://www.ericsson.com/assets/local/investors/documents/financial-reports-and-filings/interim-reports-archive/2018/3month18-en.pdf or on www.ericsson.com/investors

The company will hold two identical conference calls for journalists, financial analysts and investors. President and CEO Börje Ekholm and CFO Carl Mellander will comment on the report and take questions.

The first conference call will begin at 09:00 CEST (08:00 BST in London, 03:00 EDT in New York and 16:00 JST in Tokyo), and the second at 14:00 CEST (13:00 BST in London, 08:00 EDT in New York and 21:00 JST in Tokyo).

To join the conference call, please phone one of the following numbers:

Sweden: +46 (0) 8 5664 2651 (Toll-free Sweden: 0200 883685)

International/UK: +44 3333 000 804 (Toll-free UK: 0800 358 9473)

US: +1 631 913 1422 (Toll-free US: +1 8558 570 686)

PIN code: For 09:00 CEST call, 55234216# and for 14:00 CEST call, 61966022#

Please call in at least 15 minutes before the conference calls begin. As there are usually a large number of callers, it may take some time before you are connected.

A live audio webcast of the conference call will be available at www.ericsson.com/investors and www.ericsson.com/press

Replay:

Replay of the conference calls will be available from about one hour after each has ended until April 27, 2018.

Sweden replay number: +46 (0) 8 519 993 85

International replay number: +44 (0) 333 300 0819

For 09:00 CEST call, 301225218# and for 14:00 CEST call, 301225221#

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT

Contact person

Peter Nyquist, Head of Investor Relations
Phone: +46 10
 714 64 99
E-mail:
peter.nyquist@ericsson.com 

Additional contacts

Helena Norrman, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications
Phone: +46
 10 719 34 72
E-mail:
media.relations@ericsson.com

Investors

Åsa Konnbjer, Director, Investor Relations
Phone: +46 10
 713 39 28
E-mail:
asa.konnbjer@ericsson.com

Stefan Jelvin, Director, Investor Relations
Phone: +46 10
 714 20 39
E-mail:
stefan.jelvin@ericsson.com 

Rikard Tunedal, Director, Investor Relations
Phone: +46 10
 714 54 00
E-mail:
rikard.tunedal@ericsson.com

Media

Ola Rembe, Vice President, Head of External Communications
Phone: +46 10
 719 97 27
E-mail:
media.relations@ericsson.com 

Corporate Communications
Phone: +46 10
 719 69 92
E-mail:
media.relations@ericsson.com

This information is information that Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson is obliged to make public pursuant to the EU Market Abuse Regulation. The information was submitted for publication, through the agency of the contact person set out above, at 07:30 CEST on April 20, 2018.

Tags:

About Us

Ericsson is a world leader in communications technology and services with headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden. Our organization consists of more than 100,000 experts who provide customers in 180 countries with innovative Solutions and services. Together we are building a more connected future where anyone and any industry is empowered to reach their full potential. Net sales in 2017 were SEK 201.3 billion (USD 23.5 billion). The Ericsson stock is listed on Nasdaq Stockholm and on NASDAQ in New York. Read more on www.ericsson.com.