ERICSSON , the world's biggest maker of mobile networks has said demand is picking up in Europe and China although large projects in the US weighed on its quarterly earnings. The company reported improving underlying profitability and looks ahead to strong investment this year in 4G LTE networks that can cope with increasing data traffic from smartphones and tablets. "We have gained market share [in Europe ], which was the whole point and now we can upsell on that," chief executive Hans Vestberg told a conference call. "We have had some larger projects in the US which are a little bit slower, as well as some coverage projects. On the other hand there are new markets coming up. China is coming up, Russia has [also] been." The company has far to go to rediscover the profitability it once enjoyed. In 2005 and 2006, Ericsson's operating margins were above 20 per cent. In 2013, the margin was 6.2 per cent. Ericsson's earnings before interest and tax jumped to 9.1bn Swedish crowns (£846m) in the fourth quarter from 4.8bn in the year-ago quarter, excluding the company's joint ventures. The figure missed a mean forecast of 9.9bn crowns in a poll of analysts. Meanwhile, Vestburg has told the board he plans to stay at the firm, according to Bloomberg - scotching rumours that he could take the vacant chief executive post at Microsoft .
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