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Cell-phone maker Sony Ericsson posted a strong fourth quarter Wednesday, citing rising sales of its Walkman music phones.

The Stockholm-based venture of Japan's

Sony

(SNE) - Get Sony Corp. Report

and Sweden's

Ericsson

(ERICY)

said its profit for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31 rose to 144 million euros from 55 million a year ago, as sales surged 15% to 2.3 billion euros.

Units shipped in the fourth quarter surged 28% from a year ago and 17% sequentially to 16.1 million units. Sony Ericsson said the sequential growth was in line with the handset market's expansion.

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Sony Ericsson said it has shipped 3 million Walkman-branded units since the phone's August launch.

"This was another solid quarter for Sony Ericsson, and has enabled us to finish the year with great momentum. We are now seeing the benefit of our earlier investments in R&D which have enabled us to expand the product line-up and successfully appeal to new consumers with products like the Walkman phone series. At the same time, investment in developing the Sony Ericsson brand during 2005 is increasingly supporting our position in the marketplace," said Miles Flint, president of Sony Ericsson. "In the fourth quarter we continued to announce exciting new products at a variety of price points; from high-end 3G products like the new W900 3G Walkman phone to attractive mid-tier clamshell phones like the Z520 model to lower-priced essential phone models such as the J230, J210 and Z300 that will appeal to consumers who want a simple and stylish handset."

The news comes as U.S. investors gear up for looming earnings reports from handset giants

Nokia

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and

Motorola

(MOT)

.