China's ZTE quadruples third-quarter profit after rebounding from U.S. sanctions

SHENZHEN, China (Reuters) - Chinese telecoms equipment maker ZTE Corp 0763.HK000063.SZ said on Monday that its third-quarter net profit more than quadrupled as the company continued to rebound after being hit by crippling U.S. sanctions last year.

U.S. sanctions forced ZTE to stop most of its business between April and July last year after U.S. Commerce Department officials said the company had breached an agreement and was caught illegally shipping U.S.-origin goods to Iran and North Korea. The sanctions were lifted after ZTE paid $1.4 billion in penalties.

ZTE said its net profit for July-September rose more 370% from a year earlier to 2.66 billion yuan ($377 million) and net profit for the first three quarters of 2019 was 4.13 billion yuan.

Operating revenue rose 1.55% in the third quarter from a year earlier to 19.63 billion yuan, it said, but did not provide further details.

ZTE said it expects full-year profits in the range of 4.3 billion yuan to 5.3 billion yuan, a turnaround after losses of 6.98 billion yuan in 2018.

The company's big customers include China Unicom 0762.HK, China Telecom 0728.HK and China Mobile 0941.HK and it said last month that the Chinese market accounted for 61% of its operating revenue during the first half of this year.

U.S. sanctions prohibited U.S. companies such as Qualcomm from selling components that are vital to ZTE’s cellular networks.

The company said on Monday that it secured 35 5G commercial licenses globally in the first nine months of this year.

Reporting by David Kirton; Editing by Susan Fenton