Improving order intake and cash flow at the end of a challenging year

  • Net sales declined 21% y-o-y in constant currency (-23% reported) in Q4 as macroeconomic uncertainty continues to pressure operator spending. Full year net sales declined 8% y-o-y in constant currency (-11% reported).
  • In Q4 the environment remained challenging however there are now signs of stabilization with improving order trends.
  • Comparable gross margin in Q4 declined by 40bps y-o-y to 43.1% (reported declined 100bps to 41.8%). Significant improvements in Mobile Networks and Cloud and Network Services were offset by lower contribution from Nokia Technologies which benefited from a significant one-off in the prior year.
  • Q4 comparable operating margin declined 70bps y-o-y to 14.8% (reported down 220bps to 9.6%), demonstrating the resilience of our profitability relative to the net sales decline. 2023 comparable operating margin 10.7% (reported 7.6%)
  • Q4 comparable diluted EPS of EUR 0.10; reported diluted EPS of EUR -0.01. Full year EUR 0.29 and EUR 0.12 respectively. Q4 reported EPS impacted by an operating model change that led to non-cash remeasurement of deferred tax assets.
  • Q4 free cash flow positive EUR 1.7bn, net cash balance EUR 4.3bn. Full year free cash flow EUR 0.8bn.
  • Board proposes dividend authorization of EUR 0.13 per share and initiates two year EUR 600 million buyback program.
  • Nokia expects full year 2024 comparable operating profit of between EUR 2.3 billion to 2.9 billion and free cash flow conversion from comparable operating profit of between 30% and 60%.

This is a summary of the Nokia Corporation Financial Report for Q4 and full year 2023 published today. Nokia only publishes a summary of its financial reports in stock exchange releases. The summary focuses on Nokia Group’s financial information as well as on Nokia’s outlook. The detailed, segment-level discussion will be available in the complete financial report hosted at A video interview summarizing the key points of our Q4 results will also be published on the website. Investors should not solely rely on summaries of Nokia’s financial reports and should also review the complete reports with tables.


In 2023 we saw a meaningful shift in customer behavior impacting our industry driven by the macro-economic environment and high interest rates along with customer inventory digestion. This led to our full year net sales declining by 8% in constant currency. Proactive action across our organization meant we were able to protect our profitability while continuing to invest in R&D and we delivered a comparable operating margin of 10.7% for the full year. This was a resilient performance considering the challenging environment and lower contribution from our high margin patent licensing business as some renewals remained outstanding.

Looking specifically at the fourth quarter those same factors drove a net sales decline of 21% y-o-y in constant currency. Encouragingly we saw improvements in our gross margin across several of our businesses which, combined with continued cost discipline, helped us to deliver a strong comparable operating margin of 14.8%. In addition, we have seen a significant improvement in order intake in the fourth quarter, particularly in Network Infrastructure, indicating at least some improvement in the overall spending environment.

We delivered well in 2023 against our strategic pillar of growing in Enterprise with 16% net sales growth in constant currency and this customer segment now accounts for over 10% of our group net sales. Growth in the fourth quarter was muted at -3% in constant currency as we faced a tough comparison period. We continue to have strong momentum in this segment and expect another year of double-digit growth in 2024.

In Network Infrastructure we made important progress in a number of areas in the quarter. We received further webscale orders for our IP Routing business which supports our expectations of significant growth in webscale in 2024. In the fourth quarter we also saw good progress in the US government initiatives in Fixed Networks and we continue to expect these programs to increasingly benefit our net sales in the second half of 2024 and into 2025. The fourth quarter also saw us sign a new and significant customer in Asia for our Fixed Wireless Access products. In Optical Networks we continue to have good momentum and our new PSE-6s solutions are proving their capabilities in the field; recent live network trials set a new record of 800Gbps transmission on a single wavelength over 6 600km.

Mobile Networks net sales performance continued to be challenging in the fourth quarter, but we did see a further important improvement in gross margin which benefited from a product mix shift towards software. AT&T’s announcement in December to move to a largely single-sourced RAN network was a disappointing development. It does not reflect the technological competitiveness we have achieved with our products as evidenced by our significant increase in RAN market share in recent years. I firmly believe we have the right strategy in place for Mobile Networks to create value for our shareholders into the future with opportunities to gain share, diversify our business and achieve a double-digit operating margin longer-term.

Our Cloud and Network Services business had a strong year. We had a slight decline in net sales for the full year, but we made progress on profitability with a largely stable gross margin and improved operating margin. The business continued to rebalance its portfolio, with the divestment of its Device Management and Service Management Platform businesses in December. During 2023, we led the industry trend towards programmable networks with the launch of our Network as Code platform which now has 9 commercial agreements and we also achieved our first commercial deal for 5G Core as a service to CSPs.

In Nokia Technologies, we signed significant long-term deals with both Apple and Samsung in 2023 and we also signed a deal with Honor late in the year. I am also pleased that we have now signed a multi-year agreement with OPPO and we are close to concluding another agreement in China. After these, we are in the final stages of our smartphone license renewal cycle with only one other, recently expired, major agreement outstanding. This provides long-term stability to our Nokia Technologies business which will continue to focus on growing our licensing run-rate in new growth areas including automotive, consumer electronics, IoT and multimedia. I remain confident that with growth in these areas we can return to an annual net sales run-rate of EUR 1.4 to 1.5 billion in Nokia Technologies in the mid-term.

A clear positive in the fourth quarter was our cash flow performance. We generated EUR 1.7 billion of free cash flow as we saw a significant improvement in working capital in the quarter supported by a partial prepayment of a licensing agreement. We ended the year with a net cash position of EUR 4.3 billion. The Board is proposing a dividend of EUR 0.13 per share in respect of the financial year 2023 and considering we now hold excess cash at the end of the year, the Board is also instituting a new share buyback program of EUR 600 million to be executed in the next two years.

Looking ahead, we expect the challenging environment of 2023 to continue during the first half of 2024, particularly in the first quarter. However, we are now starting to see some green shoots on the horizon, with improving order intake for Network Infrastructure and some of the specific deals we have won. This is expected to drive a strong improvement in Network Infrastructure net sales growth in the second half of 2024 which we believe, even with a challenging first half, will drive solid growth for the full year. In Mobile Networks, we expect top line challenges in 2024 related to a more normalized pace of investment in India and the AT&T decision. We do expect further improvement in gross margin and then in the second half we will start to see more benefits from our cost savings program. At the Nokia level, we currently estimate that we will deliver comparable operating profit of between EUR 2.3 and 2.9 billion in 2024. We also target to deliver an improved free cash flow performance with conversion of between 30% and 60%.

CEO Pekka Lundmark in Nokia photographed when we was leading Fortum some years ago.

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