Financial news


15 Mar 2019

Financial results 2018

u-blox (SIX:UBXN), a global leader in wireless and positioning technologies, today announced its financial results for 2018.

Financial highlights

The fiscal year 2018 demonstrated the resilience of our business model:

  • Financial performance reflects a difficult environment in 2018
  • Market outlook remains favorable
    • EMEA on continued expansion with 21% growth in 2018
    • Americas declined slightly by 6% as some customers were delaying the migration to LTE based connectivity
    • APAC grew except in China: Temporary decline of 13%
  • Important products launched in 2018
  • R&D efforts continued at high pace – significant product launches ahead
  • EBITDA and EBIT at guided level: CHF 71.6m resp. CHF 48.3m
  • 2.6% revenue decline as compared to 2017
  • Gross profit (adjusted) down by 3.7%
  • Positive Free Cash Flow (before changes in NWC) of CHF 5.2m
  • Reduced cash flow from operating activities
    • Temporary increase in working capital to assure delivery reliability
  • Outlook 2019
    • Business growth expected in all regions

Annual report:

In 2018 our revenues were broadly in line with our latest guidance at CHF 393.3 million, with EBIT of CHF 48.3 million, and EBITDA of CHF 71.6 million.  We saw growth in all countries we operate in throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), and throughout the Asia Pacific region, except China.

In EMEA business was very strong in 2018, with 21% revenue growth.  This was driven by the need for connected devices destined for the Internet of Things (IoT) in infrastructure and telematics, as well as an increasing demand from the automotive sector, stimulated by the need for in‑vehicle connectivity. 

Revenues in the Americas declined slightly by 6% as some customers were delaying the migration to LTE based connectivity due to changing specifications and due to carriers not equipping their infrastructure in a timely manner. However, in the last quarter we saw a good increase of sales in LTE‑M and NB‑IoT modems and we expect this trend to continue. Although tracking applications declined, other industrial markets continue to grow strongly and the automotive sector maintains attractive growth, thus giving us confidence for overall revenue growth in 2019.  

We saw a short‑term decline in revenue in APAC (13%), largely due to market regulation influencing some consumer applications in China and the impact of the China‑US trade tensions. While these factors impacted the first half of the year sales, business rebounded in the second half with growth in the infrastructure, in‑car navigation, and after‑market car electronics sectors.  Looking into 2019, we see several indications of renewed growth in the APAC region, namely: 1) strong technology momentum in China, boosted by increased investment in technology, 2) increased demand for consumer applications, and 3) growth in industrial IoT, with China accounting for about one quarter of the IoT market globally, and Japan, Korea, and Taiwan already showing increasing demand for industrial IoT and automotive solutions.

Revenue breakdown

u‑blox operates in two segments:

  • Positioning and wireless products
    u‑blox develops and sells chips and modules for positioning and wireless connectivity that are used in automotive, industrial and consumer applications. Revenue was CHF 393.3 million for 2018 as compared to CHF 403.5 million in 2017.
  • Wireless services
    u‑blox also offers wireless communication technology services in terms of reference designs and software. In 2018, revenue for wireless services was CHF 31.5 million compared to CHF 32.8 million in 2017 (including intra‑group revenue).

Geographic breakdown of 2018 revenues were 35.4%, 32.4% and 32.2% for Asia‑Pacific, EMEA and Americas respectively. u‑blox was able to grow revenues in EMEA  by 20.5% to CHF 126.2 million. In APAC revenue decreased by 13.3% to CHF 139.1 million and in the Americas revenue declined by 6.3% to CHF 126.6 million.

In 2018, the company generated about 80% of its total revenue from 104 customers. u‑blox's largest customer accounted for less than 4% of revenue and u‑blox served over 6’900 customers achieving global expansion into new regions and markets.

Gross profit

Gross profit (adjusted) decreased by 3.7% to CHF 177.9 million in 2018 from CHF 184.8 million in 2017. Adjusted gross profit margin was 45.2% for 2018 compared to 45.8% in 2018 due to changes in product mix.

Distribution and marketing activities

Distribution and marketing expenses (adjusted) remain stable in 2018 with CHF 34.8 million as compared to CHF 34.0 million in the previous year. As a percentage of revenue, distribution and marketing expenses (adjusted) were 8.8% in 2018 compared to 8.4% in 2017.

Research and product development

R&D expenses (adjusted) in 2018 were CHF 67.8 million as compared to CHF 58.3 million in 2017. As a percentage of revenue, R&D expenses (adjusted) in 2018 were 17.2% as compared to 14.5% in 2017. The percentage of revenue increased due to both expanded R&D activity. Including capitalized efforts, we have again invested considerable amounts into R&D to add new platforms to our product offering.

Share based payment

Share based payment expenses recognized according to IFRS in 2018 were CHF 8.4 million as compared to CHF 8.1 million in 2017.

Operating profit (EBIT)

Operating profit (EBIT) (adjusted) was CHF 60.4 million in 2018 as compared to CHF 78.0 million in the previous year. Operating profit (EBIT) (adjusted) declined from 2017 to 2018 by 22.6%. Operating profit (EBIT) margin (adjusted) decreased to 15.4% and EBITDA margin (adjusted) was 20.7% in 2018.

Finance income and costs

Finance income was CHF 5.3 million mainly generated by foreign exchange effects. Finance costs were CHF 2.2 million consisting mainly of interest payments for the two outstanding bonds. The share of profit of equity-accounted investee Sapcorda GmbH was CHF -3.3 million net of tax.

Net cash generated from operating activities

In 2018, u‑blox generated cash from operating activities in the amount of CHF 36.3 million as compared to CHF 60.5 million in 2017, a decline of 39.9% compared to previous year, due to an increase of net working capital due to higher inventories. Excluding this working capital effect, u-blox generated cash from operating activities of CHF 68.6 million.

Main investing activities

Investments in property, plant and equipment, and intangible assets amounted to CHF 61.4 million in 2018 (2017: CHF 65.1 million). As a percentage of sales, the investment ratio decreased slightly to 15.6% in 2018 (2017: 16.1%).

Despite the continued expansion of the R&D pipeline and the increased number of development projects across all product categories, capitalized development costs were stable at CHF 53.8 million (2017: CHF 53.8 million). There were no investments into intellectual property rights in 2018 (2017: CHF 0.2 million). Investments into software amounted to CHF 0.3 million (2017: CHF 0.5 million). In 2018, investments into property, plant and equipment reached CHF 7.3 million (2017: CHF 10.6 million).

u‑blox invested 87.6% of total investments (2017: 82.9%) into the development of new products. No investment went into capacity expansion in 2018 (2017: 2.0%).

Financing activities

In 2018 u‑blox paid dividends of CHF 15.4 million and received proceeds from the issuance of ordinary shares related to the employee share option plan of CHF 15.3 million. In the context of the employee share option program, u-blox invested CHF 7.6 million for the purchase of 53‘000 treasury shares (2017: CHF 24.4 million) to be used in the future for the employee option program.

Solid financial position

u‑blox has a strong balance sheet with an equity ratio of 63.1%. Cash and cash equivalents and marketable securities amounted to CHF 137.7 million on December 31, 2018, compared to CHF 172.4 million on December 31, 2017.

Goodwill decreased due to changes in EUR/CHF exchange rate from CHF 57.6 million in 2017 to CHF 55.2 million or 9.9% of total assets in 2018.

On the basis of this strong financial position and the positive outlook, the Board of Directors is proposing at the Annual General Meeting to pay out dividends. For this year a dividend of CHF 1.60 per share is proposed, which represents a payout ratio of 29.5% of consolidated net profit, attributable to owners of the parent in line with previous years’ payout ratios.

Future outlook

We are convinced that the Internet of Things will change every aspect of our societies, our businesses, and our everyday lives. A quarter of a billion connected cars will be delivered between 2019 – 2023. Industry 4.0 is happening and it is expected that there will be more than 2 billion connected devices in 20231).  Infrastructure is becoming smarter.  There will be approximately 1 billion smart meters installed between 2019 – 20232).  Over half a billion sports and wellness trackers will be sold in the next 5 years (2019 –2023)3).

These strong market growth drivers substantiate our strategy to develop reliable and innovative positioning and wireless communication solutions that securely connect vehicles, industries, things, and millions of people around the world.

To do so, we continue to invest in innovation. In 2018 we invested over CHF 100 million in R&D, with 703 engineers in 15 research and development centers globally.  Currently 6 new chip platforms are in the development pipeline to drive profitable business growth.

More technological capabilities open new application possibilities and innovation at our IP core will assure continued margin expansion. Our targeted investments in future technologies ensure growth and certainty.

New standards will expand application possibilities.  For example, 5G defines higher performance requirements.  Bluetooth and Wi‑Fi standards expansion will allow the capillary Industry Internet of Things, bridging the cellular and short range radio worlds. New GNSS satellite signals will offer higher availability and precision.

Our product initiatives are at the forefront of these important industrial megatrends.  We continue to convince leading customers with our technology and innovation leadership, and our technology platform provides the basis to deliver resilient value‑added services.  Further, our product diversification by applications and geography assure stability in growth.

We are confident our innovation will deliver results. Revenue target for 2019 is CHF 460 to 490 million, with an EBITDA of CHF 70 to 90 million and EBIT of CHF 30 to 45 million.

1) BI Intelligence 2018
2) ABI research 20182
3) TSR 2018

Board of Directors

2019 will see some changes in the Board of Directors. Prof. Dr. Gerhard Tröster and Dr. Paul Van Iseghem will retire and therefore not stand for re‑election at the upcoming Annual General Assembly on April 25, 2019. Both have been instrumental over many years in the development of the company: Prof. Dr. Gerhard Tröster as founding professor since u‑blox was spun off from the ETH, and Dr. Paul van Iseghem as Vice‑Chairman since 2011.

The board will propose the election of the following candidates as non‑executive director on the Board of Directors of u‑blox Holding AG: Dr. Annette Rinck and Markus Borchert.

As previously announced, Daniel Ammann, member of the Executive Committee and responsible for the Positioning and Short‑Range Radio product centers, will leave u‑blox at the end of March 2019 and the Executive Committee was reorganized to combine all product centers in one group, which will be headed by Andreas Thiel. Mr. Thiel is member of the Executive Committee, as well as being a co‑founder of u‑blox, and is currently responsible for the Cellular product center and the center for integrated circuits.

Financial highlights (adjusted)

(CHF in million)201820172016
Growth rate over previous year-2.6%12.1%6.5%
Gross Profit adjusted2)177.9184.8167.8
Growth rate over previous year-3.7%10.1%7.9%
Gross Profit adjusted2) in % of revenue45.2%45.8%46.6%
EBITDA1) adjusted2)81.297.890.0
Growth rate over previous year-16.9%8.7%6.5%
EBITDA adjusted in % of revenue20.7%24.2%25.0%
Operating profit (EBIT) adjusted2)60.478.069.8
Growth rate over previous year-22.6%11.8%16.5%
Operating profit (EBIT) adjusted2) in % of revenue15.4%19.3%19.4%
Net Profit adjusted2)48.261.554.3
Growth rate over previous year-21.7%13.3%23.8%
Net Profit adjusted2) in % of revenue12.2%15.2%15.1%
Cash generated from operating activities36.360.593.6
Growth rate over previous year-39.9%-35.3%25.3%
in % of revenue9.2%15.0%26.0%
in % of total assets63.1%60.7%67.0%
Dividend per share3)1.602.252.10
1) EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) calculated by adding depreciation and amortization to profit from operations (EBIT), in each case determined in accordance with IFRS.
2) excl. share based payments, impacts based on IAS-19, amortization of intangible assets acquired and non-recurring expenses
3) proposal of the Board of Directors to the AGM

Financial highlights (IFRS)

(CHF in million)201820172016
Growth rate over previous year-2.6%12.1%6.5%
Gross Profit177.1184.0167.1
Growth rate over previous year-3.7%10.1%7.8%
Gross Profit in % of revenue45.0%45.6%46.4%
Growth rate over previous year-18.0%6.9%3.9%
EBITDA in % of revenue18.2%21.6%22.7%
Operating profit (EBIT)48.365.159.0
Growth rate over previous year-25.8%10.3%15.0%
Operating profit (EBIT) in % of revenue12.3%16.1%16.4%
Net Profit38.551.346.2
Growth rate over previous year-24.9%11.0%24.5%
Net Profit in % of revenue9.8%12.7%12.8%
Cash generated from operating activities36.360.593.6
Growth rate over previous year-39.9%-35.3%25.3%
in % of revenue9.2%15.0%26.0%
in % of total assets63.1%60.7%67.0%
Dividend per share2)1.602.252.10
1) EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) calculated by adding depreciation and amortization to profit from operations (EBIT), in each case determined in accordance with IFRS.
2) proposal of the Board of Directors to the AGM

Consolidated income statement (IFRS and adjusted)

 Jan-Dec 2018 Adjust-
Jan-Dec 2018 Jan-Dec 2017 
(in CHF 000s)(IFRS)% revenue (adjusted)% revenue(adjusted)% revenue
Revenue393'269100.0 393'269100.0403'712100.0
Cost of sales-216'151-55.0809-215'342-54.8-218'901-54.2
Gross Profit177'11845.0809177'92745.2184'81145.8
Distribution and marketing expenses-36'966-9.42'184-34'782-8.8-34'049-8.4
Research and development expenses-74'925-19.17'107-67'818-17.2-58'345-14.5
General and administrative expenses-20'755-5.32'011-18'744-4.8-16'295-4.0
Other income3'8181.0 3'8181.01'9210.5
Operating Profit (EBIT)48'29012.312'11160'40115.478'04319.3
Finance income5'3051.3 5'3051.35'6681.4
Finance costs-2'158-0.5 -2'158-0.5-5'652-1.4
Share of profit of equity-accounted
investees, net of taxes
-3'339-0.8 -3'339-0.8-400-0.1
Profit before income tax (EBT)48'09812.212'11160'20915.377'65919.2
Income tax expense-9'617-2.4-2'422-12'039-3.1-16'134-4.0
Net profit, attributable to owners of the parent38'4819.89'68948'17012.261'52515.2
Earnings per share in CHF 5.58  6.99 8.91 
Diluted earnings per share in CHF5.56  6.96 8.81 
Operating Profit (EBIT)  48'29012.312'11160'40115.478'04319.3
Depreciation and amortization23'3565.9-2'51220'8445.319'7804.9
1)Management calculates EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) by adding back depreciation and amortization to operating profit (EBIT), in each case determined in accordance with IFRS.
2)Adjustments are impacts of Share based payments, Pension calculation according to IAS-19, Non-recurring expenses and amortization of intangible assets

Consolidated statement of financial position

(in CHF 000s)At December 31, 2018 (audited)At December 31, 2017 (audited)
Current assets  
Cash and cash equivalents136'296169'624
Marketable securities1'4012'813
Trade accounts receivables60'80250'401
Other current assets78'41560'476
Total current assets276'914283’314
Non-current assets  
Property, plant and equipment14'82917'494
Intangible assets193'445153'986
Financial assets (incl. equity accounted investees)9'0418'351
Deferred tax assets3'5703'739
Total non-current assets276'116241'198
Total assets553'030524'512
Liabilities and equity  
Current liabilities55'47658'946
Non-current liabilities148'677147'054
Total liabilities204'153206'000
Shareholders’ equity  
Share capital6'3906'261
Share premium66'29666'579
Retained earnings (incl. treasury shares)276'191245'672
Total equity, attributable to owners of the parent348'877318’512
Total liabilities and equity553'030524'512


Consolidated cash flow statement

(in CHF 000s)For the period ended December 31, 2018For the period ended December 31, 2017
Net Profit38'48151'260
Depreciation & amortization23'35622'290
Other non-cash transactions9'81412'538
Financial income & financial expense192384
Income tax expense9'61713'442
Change in networking capital and provision-32'235-19'977
Income tax paid-12'883-19'433
Net cash generated from operating activities36'34260'504
Net investment into property, plant and equipment-7'312-10'548
Net investment into intangibles-54'075-54'371
Net investements into financial assets2'1034'968
Participation in capital increase-4'107-3'560
Net cash used in investing activities-63'391-63'511
Free Cash Flow (before participation in capital increase)-22'942553
Free Cash Flow-27'049-3'007
Proceeeds from issuance of ordinary shares15'2866'827
Dividens paid to owners of the parent-15'441-14'526
Net proceeds from borrowings059'284
Purchase of treasury shares-7'609-24'422
Interest paid-1'917-1'151
Net cash provided by / used in financing activities-9'68126'012
Net increase in cash and cash equivalents-36'73023'005
Cash and cash equivalents at beginning of year169'624149'545
Exchange gains/(losses) on cash and cash equivalents3'402-2'926
Cash and cash equivalents at end of the period136'296169'624


About u‑blox

u‑blox (SIX:UBXN) is a global provider of leading positioning and wireless communication technologies for the automotive, industrial, and consumer markets. Their solutions let people, vehicles, and machines determine their precise position and communicate wirelessly over cellular and short range networks. With a broad portfolio of chips, modules, and a growing ecosystem of product supporting data services, u-blox is uniquely positioned to empower its customers to develop innovative solutions for the Internet of Things, quickly and cost-effectively. With headquarters in Thalwil, Switzerland, the company is globally present with offices in Europe, Asia, and the USA.

Find us on, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter @ublox and YouTube

u‑blox contact:

Thomas Seiler, Chief Executive Officer
Phone: +41 44 722 74 22

Roland Jud, Chief Financial Officer
Phone: +41 44 722 74 25

Financial calendar
Annual general meeting:           April 25, 2019
Half year results 2019:                 August 23, 2019
Analyst day 2019:                            November 20, 2019


This release contains certain forward‑looking statements. Such forward‑looking statements reflect the current views of management and are subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause actual results, performance or achievements of the u‑blox Group to differ materially from those expressed or implied. These include risks related to the success of and demand for the Group’s products, the potential for the Group’s products to become obsolete, the Group’s ability to defend its intellectual property, the Group’s ability to develop and commercialize new products in a timely manner, the dynamic and competitive environment in which the Group operates, the regulatory environment, changes in currency exchange rates, the Group’s ability to generate revenues and profitability, and the Group’s ability to realize its expansion projects in a timely manner. Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary materially from those described in this report. u‑blox is providing the information in this release as of this date and does not undertake any obligation to update any forward‑looking statements contained in it as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

This press release is published in German and English. Should the German translation differ from the English original, the English version is binding.

u‑blox AG
Zürcherstrasse 68
8800 Thalwil
Phone +41 44 722 74 44
Fax +41 44 722 74 47