Back In Black
By Carlo Longino, Fri Feb 06 21:15:00 GMT 2004

Ericsson posts its first quarterly profit since 2001, after major cost cuts and increased operator spending. Also reporting good figures earlier in the week were NTT DoCoMo and European carrier mmO2.

Ericsson earned 142 million kronor, or $19.4 million, in the fourth quarter, compared to an 8.3 billion kronor loss the previous year, surprising analysts. Ericsson has cut half its employees in an effort to deal with reduced demand for its infrastructure products, but carriers' increased 3G spending in 2003 helped the company's bottom line. The company also gave a pretty decent outlook, saying it expects sales to increase 5 to 9 percent in the first quarter of this year, though it warned the bump could be temporary.

DoCoMo earned 137.8 billion yen, or $1.31 billion, in its fiscal third quarter, which ended December 31 (it was the first time the company had reported earnings for the period, so there's no previous-year comparison). The carrier lost market share in the quarter to rival KDDI, though it still leads the market with 56.9%. DoCoMo was able to shift customers to high-end camera phones and its 3G services, giving it some metrics most carriers would kill for -- 90% of its 45 million users access the Net via i-mode or FOMA, and more than 25% have cameraphones.

mmO2 released some performance indicators this week, beating expectations for number of subscriber additions, and seeing increased ARPUs. The company added 855,000 subscribers in the UK, Germany, and Ireland in the fourth quarter, and average revenues climbed 5 pounds per user in the UK and 6 euros per user in Germany, with data making up about 21% of total revenues.