Huawei Technologies on Monday reported asset sale gains that helped lift its profit 76% in 2021 but revenue skidded for the first time by 29% to 636.8 billion yuan in the wake of biting US sanctions.
Turning in its first results under Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou since she returned to China last year, after nearly three years’ detention in Canada, Huawei recorded its biggest-ever annual gain, as net profit rose to 113.7 billion yuan ($17.8 billion), the smartphone and computer giant said.
But last year’s surge, from just 3.2% growth in 2020, marked the impact of asset sales in the wake of US sanctions and weaker domestic consumer demand amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“Despite a revenue decline in 2021, our ability to make a profit and generate cash flows is increasing, and we are more capable of dealing with uncertainty,” Meng said, at an event live-streamed from the company’s Shenzhen headquarters.
Guo Ping, who currently holds the rotating post of chairman at Huawei, said the performance was in line with its forecasts.
Meng’s detention in Canada came just before the administration of former US president Donald Trump imposed a trade ban on Huawei, citing national security concerns. The curbs barred the company from using Alphabet’s Android for its new smartphones, among other critical US-origin technology.
The US sanctions, together with the coronavirus, have weighed on Huawei, prompting it to sell its mid-range handset division, Honor, in November 2020. The company received its first payment for the deal in March 2021.
Huawei also sold its x86 server division around the same time.
Meng, the daughter of Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfei, played a central role in the tussle Huawei had with the United States. She was detained in December 2018 in Vancouver after a New York court issued an arrest warrant, saying she tried to cover up attempts by Huawei-linked companies to sell equipment to Iran in breach of US sanctions.
She was allowed to go back to China in September last year after reaching an agreement with US prosecutors to end a bank fraud case, and returned to work the following month.
In the years since it came under US sanctions, the company has ramped up research and development in fields such as green power and autonomous driving.
It has also ramped up sales of its existing range of consumer hardware products. Revenue for wearable devices and smart screens grew 30% year-on-year, Huawei said.
• Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard