"During the second half of 2009, Networks' sales were impacted by reduced operator spending in a number of markets. Group sales for the full year were less affected and the operating argin increased slightly," says Hans Vestberg, President and CEO of Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC). "We maintained market shares well in all segments, cash flow was good and our financial position is strong. The services business performed well, and our joint ventures remain on track to return to profit.
"Sales for comparable units, adjusted for currency exchange rate effects and hedging declined year-over-year -16%. Voice related sales, such as 2G, continued to decline in the quarter but were partly offset by increased 3G sales. Sales were also impacted by tight industry component supply conditions.
Gross margin improved, positively affected by business mix and continued efficiency gains. Cash flow improved year-over-year. The work to regain profitability in our joint ventures is on track and Sony Ericsson shows improved results year-over-year.
The shift from voice telephony to mobile broadband investments continues. Users and traffic are increasing rapidly and will eventually connect billions of people to the internet. As previously stated, with this shift follows the anticipated decline in GSM sales, accelerated by the current economic climate, which is not yet offset by the growth in mobile broadband and investments in next-generation IP networks.
Current operator investment behavior varies between regions and countries. During 2009, operators in a number of developing markets, especially Central Europe, Middle East and Africa, became increasingly cautious with investments. Meanwhile, other markets including China, India and the US continued to show good development with major network buildouts. There is also a continued strong demand for services targeting the operational efficiency of operators, such as managed services and consulting.
During the year, we significantly strengthened our position in North America with key wins in both our networks and services businesses such as LTE to Verizon and Metro PCS and services to Sprint. The confidence TeliaSonera has shown in us by selecting our LTE solutions in the beginning of this year further confirms the technical quality of our solutions and strong services portfolio.
For 2010 we are determined to increase our efforts to combine our strong technology leadership position and service capabilities to provide value to our customers and ensure our continued healthy financial development," concludes Hans Vestberg.