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China's Huawei continues rebound with strongest earnings growth since 2019

Huawei logo at Huawei Technologies France in Boulogne-Billancourt

By David Kirton

SHENZHEN, China (Reuters) - China's Huawei Technologies saw its fastest growth in four years in 2023, with a rebound in its consumer segment and income from new businesses like smart car components accelerating its recovery from U.S. sanctions.

Revenue rose 9.63% from a year earlier to 704.2 billion yuan ($97.48 billion), with the consumer business contributing most to that figure, growing 17.3% to 251.49 billion yuan.

While Huawei did not break down the consumer figure, the segment includes its handset business, which saw a renaissance last year as the company returned to the mainstream 5G smartphones market with the Mate 60, apparently overcoming U.S. restrictions.

From 2019, the U.S. has restricted Huawei's access to U.S. technology, accusing the company of being a security risk, which Huawei denies.

Last year marked the third consecutive year of growth for the company after revenue plummeted by almost a third in 2021 when the company started to exhaust chip reserves, though revenue remains below its 2020 peak of 891.3 billion yuan.

Huawei was relatively muted about its achievement, doing away with the press conference and launch event it has held every year at least since the U.S. restrictions began.

In a press release, rotating chairman Ken Hu said the results were in line with forecasts.

"We've been through a lot over the past few years. But through one challenge after another, we've managed to grow."

At a launch event last year, Meng Wangzhou, Huawei's CFO and the daughter of the company's founder, announced that Huawei was no longer in crisis mode.

Net profit in 2023 rose by 144.5% to 87 billion yuan, with the net profit margin more than doubling on a year earlier to 12.35%.

Some of that came from ongoing payment from the sale of the Honor smartphone brand, which Huawei sold in November 2020, a company spokesperson said.

While the company's core ICT infrastructure business remained stable, its cloud business grew by more than a fifth, generating revenue of 55.3 billion yuan.

Huawei's four-year-old smart car software and components business also saw major growth albeit from a lower comparison base, up 128.1% year on year to 4.7 billion yuan.

Last year Huawei announced it would spin off the smart car unit into a new company.

Earlier this month, Richard Yu, the managing director and chairman of Huawei's smart car solutions, announced the unit would likely turn a profit from April after losing billions of yuan in the past year, local media reported.

($1 = 7.2237 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by David Kirton; Editing by Christopher Cushing)