Ericsson third-quarter sales beat expectations, operating profit jumps

  • "We continue to execute on our focused strategy, tracking well towards our 2020 targets," Borje Ekholm, president and CEO of Ericsson, said in a statement.
  • The mobile telecom provider posted an operating profit of 3.2 billion crowns ($356.5 million) as compared to a loss of 3.7 billion crowns in the third quarter of 2017.

Mobile telecom equipment maker Ericsson reported stronger-than-expected third-quarter sales figures Thursday, boosted primarily by high activity levels in North America.

In posting its third consecutive quarter of progress toward reaching its 2020 financial targets, the company saw its net sales jump by 9 percent year-on-year and 8 percent since the last quarter.

"We continued execution on our focused strategy that we laid out a year-and-a-half ago, and it is starting to yield the results," Borje Ekholm, president and CEO of Ericsson, told CNBC's "Street Signs" Thursday.

"It is still not good enough, we can do better. And that is why we are well on the way to reach the targets for 2020," Ekholm said.

The mobile telecom provider posted an operating profit of 3.2 billion crowns ($356.5 million) as compared to a loss of 3.7 billion crowns in the third quarter of 2017.

5G is 'not a buzzword anymore'

Ericsson's shares have soared more than 30 percent year-to-date, underpinned by progress toward meeting its 2020 financial targets and hopes for a 5G-led industry growth cycle.

Visitors pass through the entrance to the Ericsson AB pavilion at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013. 
Simon Dawson | Bloomberg via Getty Images
Visitors pass through the entrance to the Ericsson AB pavilion at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013. 

The Swedish mobile telecom gear maker appears to be benefitting from rising competition among the four top U.S. carriers, which are all desperately trying to be the first to deliver 5G in dozens of American cities.

"We see very strong momentum in the 5G market and actually already today there are commercial networks available in North America. So, 5G is not a buzzword anymore — it is actually reality, it is happening," Ekhom said.

"We are well positioned (for 5G) and we continue to invest to provide our customers with the best products to launch 5G as quickly as possible and as effortless as possible."

5G has become somewhat of a litmus test for technology leadership in America's intensifying stand-off with China over trade and national security.

Ericsson — which was once one of the world's biggest suppliers of mobile communications gear — is facing a number of headwinds at present, including falling spending among telecom operators and stiff competition from the likes of Huawei and Nokia.

Shares of Ericsson surged towards the top of the European benchmark on Thursday, up more than 4 percent during mid-morning deals.