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u-blox’s H1 2023 Jumps 17% YoY, Expects Slowdown in H2

  • Results driven by design wins in the automotive and industrial application sectors.
  • EMEA had the highest growth in revenue at 31% YoY and surpassed the Americas in terms of contribution.
  • u-blox to experience a reduction in revenue in Q3 2023 and remain sluggish in H2 2023.

Global wireless and positioning technologies leader u-blox’s H1 2023 revenue rose 17% YoY to reach $364.3 million, primarily driven by successful design wins within the automotive and industrial application sectors. However, gains were limited by a decline in consumer revenue.

During u-blox’s earnings call, CEO Stephan Zizala touched upon several important topics like significant design wins, prevailing macroeconomic challenges, and the company’s proactive management strategy for the future.

Macroeconomic Situation and Outlook

CEO: “In a softening macroeconomic and global semiconductor market environment, our order book for H2 2023 developed more slowly than initially anticipated. Mainly due to unfavorable FX rates and overstocking, we expect Q3 revenues and profitability to be weak, with an improvement in Q4.”

Our analyst take: “The IoT module industry is decelerating because of broader macroeconomic conditions and a softening semiconductor market. Key players in the cellular IoT module sector, including Quectel and Telit Cinterion, have witnessed a reduction in growth compared to H1 2022. However, during H1 2023, u-blox achieved significant double-digit expansion, despite significant constraints from the global semiconductor supply chain shortage.”

“However, u-blox is expected to experience a reduction in revenue in Q3 2023 as demand remained weak in the key North American region during H1 2023 and will likely remain sluggish in H2 2023. However, u-blox is optimistic about Q4.”

u-blox revenue by application, H1 2019 - H1 2023Management Strategy

CEO: “While we must deal with cycle adaptation, I remain very confident about u-blox’s long-term outlook and growth trajectory, thanks to our strong structural growth drivers in automotive and industrial target applications. We are winning important new projects at leading customers. A large design win for automated driving ramping in 2026 and an innovative approach for satellite IoT connectivity are testimony to these future development prospects.”

Our analyst take: “The automotive industry is undergoing a significant transformation towards electrification and autonomy. This transition highlights the importance of connectivity and navigation, emerging as crucial factors. u-blox stands out from other GNSS competitors due to its exceptional GNSS quality and centimeter-level precision in positioning.”

“Apart from its focus on GNSS and cellular technology, u-blox’s recent collaborations with satellite player Orbcomm leverage its strides toward present-day trends. The aim is to offer hybrid connectivity solutions (combining cellular and satellite capabilities) catering to agriculture, asset tracking, and maritime applications, promising enhanced coverage and communication. However, u-blox is set to encounter intense competition from Quectel, Fibocom, and Telit Cinterion, as they have already introduced hybrid connectivity modules.”H1 2023 Highlights:

  • u-blox’s gross profit increased 12% YoY in H1 2023 to reach $171 million.
  • The industrial sector accounted for 65% of the total company revenue and experienced a robust 26% YoY growth. This growth was attributed to significant demand in asset tracking applications.
  • The automotive segment also exhibited growth, increasing 24% YoY and accounting for 30% to the overall revenue, driven by the acceleration of electric vehicle adoption and advancements in autonomy.
  • Conversely, the consumer and other segments faced a decline of 55% YoY, accounting for only 5% of the total revenue. This decline was primarily driven by decreased consumer demand starting from mid-2022.
  • Among regions, APAC was the highest contributor, capturing 43% of the market with 30% YoY growth due to demand from automotive customers and safety stock buildup for healthcare customers. EMEA shows the highest growth with 31% YoY and contributed 32% of the market surpassing Americas with a ramp-up of the tracking business and 2022 order backlog. However, the US region’s revenue fell 12% YoY, accounting for only 25% of the market due to demand reduction in healthcare and consumer applications.
  • In H1 2023, modules and chips accounted for 80% and 19% of the total revenue, respectively. Module volume grew 9% YoY growth in H1 2023, while chip volume saw a remarkable increase of 31% YoY.
  • In the module revenue segment, the GNSS module retained its leading position, generating over half of the total revenue. This is attributed to the exceptional quality and precision of u-blox’s GNSS products. The collaboration with GMV resulted in significant design wins, merging u-blox’s GNSS receiver hardware with GMV’s secure correction service, sensor fusion and positioning engine. Furthermore, u-blox has partnered with Position Partners to introduce the PointPerfect GNSS augmentation service to Victoria and New South Wales. This marks the initial phase of the service’s rollout within the Australian and New Zealand markets.
  • In H1 2023, the Wi-Fi/BT module segment grew 10% YoY. u-blox’s latest release, the JODY-W5, introduced the newest dual-band Wi-Fi 6 and dual-mode Bluetooth® 5.3 module, featuring Bluetooth LE audio within a compact form factor. This design is aimed at preventing wireless network congestion within vehicles while simultaneously enhancing audio capabilities.
  • According to Counterpoint Research’s Cellular IoT Module Tracker service, u-blox’s cellular IoT module segment grew 18% YoY in H1 2023 to reach $106 million. u-blox has accelerated its adoption of tracking applications driven by the strong performance of its UBX-R5 chipset-based LPWA and LTE-M modules.

Conclusion

Given the macroeconomic challenges characterized by adverse shifts in FX rates and customer overstocking, u-blox’s market outlook for H2 2023 suggests a substantial deceleration. The rise in inventory levels is expected to lead to a decrease in profitability during Q3 2023, followed by a recovery in Q4 2023. However, the demand and requirements for semiconductor solutions, particularly in domains such as autonomous driving, asset tracking and industrial automation, are poised for substantial growth. u-blox remains strategically positioned to capitalize on this growth trend due to its strong expertise in positioning technology and wireless connectivity, which is expected to result in more design wins.

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