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Ericsson Profit Up 22%

The results are slightly soft as margins shrink.
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said earnings rose a slightly weaker-than-expected 22% in the third quarter, as a 14% jump in revenue was partially offset by weakened margins.

The Swedish telecom equipment maker earned $673 million, or about 43 cents a share, in the most recent quarter, compared with $550.6 million, or about 34 cents a share, a year ago. Sales were $4.58 billion, compared with $4.03 billion a year ago.

Analysts were forecasting earnings of 45 cents a share on sales of $4.8 billion in the most recent quarter. The shortfall looked partially attributable to a slightly soft gross margin of 45.2% in the most recent quarter, compared with 47.1% a year ago.

The stock drifted lower by 6 cents to $33.14 early Friday.

The company said Western Europe sales were "basically flat" year-over-year, while sales in North America rose 35%.

The company predicted growth in its markets will continue.

"The traffic growth in the world's mobile networks is expected to continue as a result of both new services and new subscribers. For 2005 we continue to believe that the global mobile systems market, measured in USD, will show moderate growth compared to 2004."