Earnings call: Ericsson's Q3 2023 results show resilience amid market uncertainties

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Earnings call: Ericsson's Q3 2023 results show resilience amid market uncertainties
Credit: © Reuters.

Ericsson (BS: ERICAs )'s Third Quarter 2023 Results earnings call, led by CEO Borje Ekholm, revealed a Q3 performance that met expectations despite a soft top-line in North America. However, strong margins in other markets and a robust performance in India helped balance the overall results. Ekholm highlighted the company's Global Network Platform (GMP) strategy aimed to address the flat mobile infrastructure market by creating new monetization opportunities for operators. The CEO also underscored the importance of Vonage in Ericsson's expansion into the enterprise market and transformation of its business.

Key takeaways from the call include:

  • Ericsson aims to capture a significant share of the estimated $20 billion market for network APIs by 2028.
  • Despite the uncertain market environment, Ericsson remains committed to its long-term EBITDA margin target of 15% to 18%.
  • The company will not provide guidance beyond Q4 of this year due to cautious customer investments.
  • Ericsson reported an impairment of SEK31.9 billion related to Vonage goodwill, which represents 50% of total goodwill and intangible assets attributed to Vonage.
  • Sales in North America declined by 60% due to inventory adjustments and slower deployment pace, while sales in India quadrupled due to large rollout projects.
  • Ericsson exceeded expectations for EBITDA margin due to cost-cutting efforts, achieving run rate savings of SEK10.5 billion year-to-date with a target of SEK12 billion in total savings by the end of the year.
  • The company expects gross margin in networks to range from 39% to 41% in Q4, with a lower sales top line seasonality in Cloud Software and Services.

Ericsson executives also provided insights into the future of the network's gross margins and market expansion, highlighting cost reduction efforts and the potential of 5G business models. They anticipate North America to grow by 15% next year, while India's growth is expected to taper off after a record year in 2022. The executives acknowledged the market's competitiveness and the need for efficient R&D and cost savings. They also emphasized the importance of tapping into new revenue pools, such as enterprise digitization.

CEO Borje Ekholm expressed concerns about Europe's lack of progress in building digital infrastructure, comparing it unfavorably with India's strong nationwide 5G network. He stressed the importance of digital infrastructure for long-term competitiveness and hopes to see increased investments in Europe.

In terms of specific business segments, the executives acknowledged a slowdown in Vonage's core business, which led to a goodwill impairment. However, they remain optimistic about the growth potential of the global network platform. They expect growth in the Cloud Software and Services segment to continue, and they believe that 5G core deployments will pick up in the future. Despite the impairment due to Vonage's slowdown, Ericsson expects its Global Communication platform segment to grow in line with or slightly better than the market in the coming years.

The call concluded with the executives expressing optimism for the future, looking forward to the next earnings call in January 2023.

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