STOCKHOLM - The Swedish telecommunications equipment maker Ericsson posted Wednesday a first quarter net profit that was more than double the level recorded a year earlier, owing to a major one-off divestment.
The world leader in mobile telephone networks also said sales had fallen by four percent to 50.97 billion kronor (5.7 billion euros, $7.6 billion), while operating profit excluding the sale of its half the joint venture Sony Ericsson was 56 percent lower at 2.8 billion.
Net profit leapt however by 116 percent to 8.8 billion kronor thanks to a 7.7 billion kronor contribution from the sale of a 50-percent stake in Sony Ericsson, a statement said.
Meanwhile, "sales of high-performance mobile broadband developed well in North America, Japan and Korea, while other regions such as Europe including Russia, parts of Middle East and India were weaker," chief executive Hans Vestberg said.
Cheuvreux analyst Odon De Laporte highlighted an increase in Ericsson's gross margin since the fourth quarter of 2011.
Gross margin is the percent of total sales that a company retains after taking into account the cost of their production and associated services.
"Sure, the report shows there is low activity, especially for the network division, but seeing the gross margin bouncing back is definitely a relief," Laporte was quoted by Dow Jones Newswires as saying.
Ericsson's gross margin climbed to 33.3 percent in the first three months of the year, from 30.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011, but remained below the 2011 first quarter level of 38.5 percent.
On February 16, Sony said it had finalised the acquisition of Ericsson's share of their mobile telephone joint venture Sony Ericsson, which was renamed Sony Mobile Communications.
The transaction, which had a total value of 1.05 billion euros ($1.4 billion), included patents and licenses.
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