Ericsson CEO Borje Ekholm used the company’s latest earnings release to caution of further market decline outside China in 2024, with uncertainties of 2023 expected to continue, while bemoaning current unsustainably-low operator investment levels.

In a Q4 and full-year 2023 earnings announcement, Ekholm said Ericson executed on a strategy to lead in mobile networks and grow its enterprise business.

While its actions start to pay-off, he added Ericsson is “not satisfied with our profitability and there is more work to do”.

He explained the mobile network industry remains challenging and it expects a further decline of RAN market outside China in 2024 “as our customers remain cautious and the investment pace is normalising in India”.

Ekholm pointed to a $14 billion open RAN deal struck with AT&T in December 2023 as a reason for optimism, predicting the contract would begin to ramp in H2 2024.

He noted underlying demand from growing data traffic and 5G being in the early stages of deployment means additional network investment will be required and “a market recovery should materialise”.

However, the timing of any recovery “is ultimately in the hands of our customers”.

Numbers game
Revenue in Q4 2023 fell 16 per cent year-on-year to SEK71.9 billion ($6.9 billion), impacted largely by a 23 per cent drop in Networks sales to SEK45 billion.

Cloud, Software and Services revenue dropped 4 per cent to SEK19.6 billion, slightly offset by a 7 per cent rise in Enterprise sales to SEK6.7 billion.

Net income fell 30.5 per cent to SEK3.4 billion.

In a separate statement, Ericsson named Lars Sandstrom as its next CFO.

Sandstrom will assume the role on 1 April, replacing Carl Mellander, who is departing after more than 25 years.

The latest CFO joins Ericsson from the same role with medical technology company Getinge.

He has also held senior positions at manufacturing companies Volvo and Scania.