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Huawei shrugs off US sanctions with a bumper 2023

Chinese technology company Huawei is recovering strongly from the earlier impact of US sanctions, with sales up 9.6% and net profit 144% in 2023, company figures released on March 29 show.

Year-on-year sales growth rocketed 26% in the fourth quarter, led by strong demand for the company’s Mate 60 Series smartphones, with the Mate 60 Pro showing strong uptake. Introduced at the end of August, the Mate 60 Pro defied US tech restrictions with its 5G capability and Kirin 9000S processor designed by Huawei subsidiary HiSilicon.

The Kirin 9000 chip is fabricated by Chinese IC foundry SMIC using a 7nm process. With SMIC also under US-led sanctions and unable to buy advanced EUV lithography systems from ASML of the Netherlands, the US Commerce Department had likely thought that would be impossible.

Huawei’s operating margin rose from 6.6% to 14.8%, primarily due to higher sales. The unusually high 19.1% operating margin reported in 2021 was supported by the disposal of the low-end Honor cell phone business and other items. If asset sales are not counted, the margin was less than 10%.

Full-year 2023 sales growth was led by consumer products – cell phones, tablet PCs, watches, wearable fitness monitors – which were up 17.3%. Sales of ICT (information and communications technology) infrastructure, largely for 5G networks, were up 2.3%.

Huawei is diversifying but ICT infrastructure still accounted for more than half of total sales and consumer products for more than 35%.

Cloud computing revenues were up 21.9%. According to Canalys, Huawei Cloud had 19% of China’s cloud computing market in the fourth quarter of 2023, trailing Alibaba Clouds’s 39% but ahead of Tencent Cloud’s 16%. Huawei Cloud has customers around the world but most