Telecom equipment maker Ericsson (ERICY) was down 16.7% in early trading after the Swedish company said the economic downturn would force it to take further steps beyond its current restructuring.

At a London conference, Ericsson CEO Kurt Hellstrom said, "No one can tell when we will see an end to the downturn."

Hellstrom said much remained to be done for the company to reach positive cash flow for 2001. He added that uptake of high-speed GPRS mobile phones has been slower than expected.

Another Ericsson executive said the telecom sector's total capital spending for 2001 would be below spending in 2000. The company reaffirmed its forecast of 400 million to 440 million phones sold globally, and said about 10 million of these would be GPRS.

On the brighter side, Ericsson said it expects an improvement in U.S. sales in the second half of the year compared to the same period last year.

The remarks weighed on other telecom equipment stocks, including

Nokia

(NOK) - Get Report

, which was down 4.5%, and

Lucent

(LU)

, which lost 3.1%.