China’s ZTE Corporation has been in quite a lot of trouble in recent times, having been accused of violating the US trade embargo put on Iran for reportedly going ahead with its nuclear enrichment program in spite of international warnings. While the U.S. had initially imposed trade restrictions on ZTE, the Chinese multinational telecommunications equipment company got a temporary reprieve late last month when the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) decided to lift the export ban it had imposed on the firm earlier in the year for its alleged business links with Iran’s state-owned telecommunications company, TCI (Telecommunications Company of Iran). What’s even more worrisome is that the Chinese company has also been accused in the past of carrying on trade with several other countries under US sanctions, including Cuba, North Korea, Sudan and Syria.
However, even though this year hasn’t exactly started on a great note for ZTE, last year seemed to have gone just fine for the telecom equipment giant from Shenzhen, especially on the economic front. According to an announcement from ZTE earlier today, the company earned overall operating revenues of 100.19 billion Yuan ($15.45 billion) last year, which represents a topline growth of 23% over 2014. This translates to a net profit of 3.21 billion Yuan ($490 million), with an EPS (Earning per Share) of 0.78 Yuan (12¢). The company has also proposed a dividend payout of 2.5 Yuan (39¢) for every 10 shares held by investors.
Much like its country-mate Huawei Technologies, ZTE, says that it has benefited from the continuing adoption of fourth-generation LTE (Long Term Evolution) technology both within China and beyond. The company points at the issuance of FDD-LTE permits, optical fiber upgrades by major telecom companies and expansion of its own cloud computing services as some of the important reasons that helped it grow at a healthy pace. The company also mentions in its press release that “High-end routers and handset products in the international market and family terminals in the domestic and international markets also saw significant growth”. The company also claims that it was able to streamline and optimize its cost structure last year, resulting in its overall expenses decreasing “substantially” on a YoY basis.
As can be seen from the infographic below, it wasn't just ZTE's telecom equipment division that did well last year. The company's consumer devices unit too did pretty well for itself with open market shipments increasing by as much as 260% globally. Overall, the company claims to have shipped 56 million smartphones last year, making it one of the top 7 handset vendors worldwide, alongside the likes of Apple, Samsung, Huawei and Xiaomi. While overall shipments rose by a healthy-looking 16%, ZTE says that its overseas shipments rose a stunning 70% over and above the company’s 2014 figures. The company also claims to hold over 12,000 mobile-related patents and is apparently one of the top four handset vendors in the United States overall.