Nokia has announced its Q4 2018 earnings today and was able to beat analyst’s expectations of sales and profit. While analysts expected 1.056 billion euros of operating profit, Nokia reported operating profit of 1.12 billion euros for the last quarter of 2018. Read more highlights below.
- Net sales in Q4 2018 were EUR 6.9bn, compared to EUR 6.7bn in Q4 2017. Net sales grew by 3% year-on-year, on both a reported and constant currency basis. Our robust topline performance reflects the strong competitiveness across our portfolio and that our strategy execution is tracking well. We maintained good momentum, with strong 5G customer engagement in all key markets, particularly strong performance in Nokia Software and solid performance in our enterprise business.
- Non-IFRS diluted EPS in Q4 2018 was EUR 0.13, compared to EUR 0.13 in Q4 2017. Particularly strong execution in Q4 enabled us to achieve our full year 2018 operational guidance, with year-on-year operating profit growth in Networks, as well as in Nokia Technologies on a recurring basis. Non-IFRS diluted EPS increased by EUR 0.02 year-on-year on a recurring basis, driven by our gross profit performance and continued operating expense reduction, partially offset by foreign exchange hedging and higher income tax expenses.
- Reported diluted EPS in Q4 2018 was EUR 0.03, compared to negative EUR 0.07 in Q4 2017, primarily driven by lower income tax expenses and our gross profit performance, partially offset by lower one-time licensing net sales, foreign exchange hedging and higher financial expenses.
- In Q4 2018, net cash and current financial investments increased sequentially by approximately EUR 1.2bn and we ended 2018 with a strong financial position. In Q4 2018, net cash from operating activities benefitted from strong seasonality and positive changes in net working capital. Consequently, recurring free cash flow for full year 2018 was slightly negative.
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Nokia ended the year with a strong fourth quarter. We saw the second consecutive quarter of year-on-year sales growth across all five of our Networks business groups, as well as improved profitability in both Networks and Nokia Technologies. The execution of our strategy also proceeded well, with the work we have put into building a solid foundation for Nokia Software showing clear results and our enterprise business rapidly becoming a pillar of growth.
Looking forward, I expect Nokia’s performance to strengthen for the full year 2019 versus 2018 and our view of a fast and meaningful shift to 5G remains unchanged. Given that 5G rollouts will be staggered over the course of the year, we expect 2019 to have a soft first half followed by a much more robust second half.
Over the longer-term, we expect a virtuous cycle of investment, where operators update their networks across multiple domains – from optical to macro radio, fixed wireless access to cloud core, small cells to IP routing, network agnostic software and more. Following this, we expect a second wave where industrial customers will invest in private wireless technology including LTE and 5G-ready networks. With our end-to-end portfolio, Nokia is well-positioned to tap this extended cycle.