Ericsson Q4 profits, sales surge on growth in China

HELSINKI: Wireless equipment maker Ericsson said Wednesday that an improvement in business in China despite the market turmoil there helped its fourth-quarter profit jump nearly 70 percent.

Also boosted by patent licensing fees, the world's largest networks provider said sales grew 8 percent in the period to 73.6 billion kronor, with net profit surging to 7 billion kroner ($820 million).

The Swedish company said it was on target to reach its savings goal of 9 billion kronor by 2017, but describing some markets as "challenging," CEO Hans Vestberg hinted new measures might be necessary.

"Although company performance improved in the quarter there is still a need for further improvements," he said. "We  will take all necessary actions to remain competitive across the entire business."

Ericsson's share price fell more than 6 percent to 76.70 kronor in early afternoon trading in Stockholm.

Sami Sarkamies, chief analyst at Nordea Bank in Helsinki, said the fall in the share price wasn't immediately clear after the "positive" report.

"Ericsson's result was good, much as expected, but maybe the hint of further expense cuts caused the stock to drop," he said. "Its shares had recently made sizeable gains before the report so maybe that too was a factor for the drop."

Ericsson described emerging markets in the quarter as "strong," but said that broadband expenditure in North America remained stable, with markets in Russia, Brazil and parts of the Middle East continuing to be weak.

Based in the Swedish capital, Ericsson makes infrastructure for mobile broadband networks.