Comptel’s growth accelerated towards the end of the year. Our sales in Q4 grew by approximately 21% compared to last year, and our order backlog grew significantly compared to the previous year.
During the second half of 2014, we won several new customers as well as several multi-year deals with our existing customers. In Q4, we won two new customers, both in South America. Looking at the full year, we doubled our new customer wins: to eight in 2014 compared to four in 2013.
Our new solutions grew almost 26% in Q4, as well. However, our full-year expectations for new solutions did not materialise as we had expected. Our current business was strong and grew by 5% in 2014 as a whole and compared to the previous year.
Regionally, Asia-Pacific grew throughout the year, Europe had a very strong second half, and the Middle East performed as planned in 2014. As previously stated in 2014, our challenges were in the South America region.
Our net profit improved also significantly from previous years due to some previously made tax changes in Asia and also due to some new decisions by the tax authorities. Going forward, we expect this to reduce our effective corporate tax rate.
We ended the year with a solid balance sheet and continue to be net cash positive. During 2014, we secured 26 significant orders, valued over EUR 0.5 million. In 2013, the comparable number of orders was 17. The Group’s reported order backlog increased from the previous year, from EUR 40.8 in 2013 to EUR 55.2 million at the end of the 2014 financial year. The company’s total backlog including multi-year orders beyond 12 months is more than EUR 70 million.
Comptel renewed its organisation in the beginning of 2015. The new organisation reflects the company’s focus on the two core business areas. Going forward, the two business units are: “Comptel Intelligent Data” and “Comptel Service Orchestration.” The Comptel Intelligent Data business unit includes Comptel Convergent Mediation, Comptel Policy and Charging Control and Analytics. The Comptel Service Orchestration business unit includes Comptel Provisioning and Activation, Comptel Fulfillment and Comptel Inventory.
Moreover, the company continues to have common sales and services organisations and corporate functions. In addition, Comptel established a new business unit, which will concentrate on new ideas and products in the early stage to develop them further.
Business Outlook and Markets
The business environment and industry of telecommunications operators is at a clear turning point, since new technologies and business competitors are entering the traditional telecommunications market. We expect the trend to continue in 2015.
While fundamental investments are targeted to high bandwidth, 4G and fibre networks, operators have a strong need to develop and launch new services and improve the quality of the customer experience, to gain the full potential of their investments in a heavily competitive market. Fierce competition inside the telecommunications industry and against the newcomers in the same market requires that operators improve their business processes continuously and pay special attention to their cost structure.
The significance and role of software in managing the telecommunications networks and in enabling more business for operators will further increase. We expect that the implementation of new network technologies and services will slightly increase the value of the software market and will create demand for larger software delivery projects. The operators will require both services and new project deliveries that create a strong basis for business growth. Network technologies will also be moving to software-based cloud environments at an increasing pace, and will bring new and more extensive business opportunities for our service orchestration and intelligent data solutions.
We expect the 2015 net sales to grow compared to the previous year, and we expect operating profit to be in the range of 8-12%, excluding one-time charges. Characteristically, a significant part of Comptel’s operating profit and net sales is generated in the second half of the year.