* Ericsson Q4 sales, profits fall short
* Operating profit 9.1 bln SEK vs forecast 9.9 bln
* Proposes dividend of 3 crowns per share
(Adds company comment, background, detail)
STOCKHOLM, Jan 30 Mobile telecom gear maker
Ericsson posted sales and fourth-quarter operating
profit below expectations on Thursday and said network projects
in China and Russia had not compensated for lower sales in North
America and Japan.
After the global downturn, sales in Ericsson's key Networks
unit have been gradually recovering, but a previously flagged
decline due to large projects coming to an end dragged down
revenues and the fall could not be offset by growth in other
Sales in networks fell 1 percent in the quarter from the
same period a year earlier even though revenues got a boost from
a patent deal with Korea's Samsung and the unit's
operating margin was below expectations, despite low margin
projects in Europe falling out of the mix.
"During the quarter the European network modernization
projects continued to improve and were not dilutive to margins,"
the company said in a statement.
While 2013 ended on a sour note for the world's biggest
network gear maker, analysts predict Ericsson sales will get a
lift in 2014 in Europe and China where big carriers spend on
high-speed 4G LTE networks to cope with a surge in data as
consumers watch more video on their smartphones.
Vodafone, the world's second-largest mobile operator and a
big Ericsson client, has said it will spend spend 7 billion
pounds ($11.6 billion) to boost coverage and speed in its
networks through March 2016.
Ericsson's earnings before interest and tax were 9.1 billion
Swedish crowns ($1.4 billion) compared to 4.8 billion in the
year-ago quarter, excluding the company's joint ventures,
missing a mean forecast of 9.9 billion in a Reuters poll of
Sales at Ericsson, the world number one mobile network
equipment maker, were 67.0 billion crowns against a forecast of
69.3 billion. Sales and profit were boosted by a 4.2 billion
crowns patent deal with Samsung.
The gross margin was 37.1 percent against a mean forecast of
36.7 percent. Ericsson proposed a dividend of 3.00 crowns per
share, higher than the median forecast of 2.95 crowns per share.
($1 = 0.6041 British pounds)
(Reporting by Sven Nordenstam and Simon Johnson; editing by