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MarketScreener Homepage  >  Equities  >  NASDAQ OMX STOCKHOLM  >  Ericsson AB    ERIC B   SE0000108656

ERICSSON AB

(ERIC B)
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Activist investor urges Ericsson to cut costs faster

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03/28/2018 | 11:46am EDT
FILE PHOTO - Ericsson CEO Borje Ekholm holds a news conference during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Activist investor Cevian Capital urged Ericsson (>> Ericsson) on Wednesday to speed up cost savings, even though the Swedish mobile telecoms equipment maker said it was comfortably on track to hit its $1 billion-plus target.

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Activist investor Cevian Capital urged Ericsson on Wednesday to speed up cost savings, even though the Swedish mobile telecoms equipment maker said it was comfortably on track to hit its $1 billion-plus target.

Ericsson has made sweeping cost cuts and replaced much of its top management to try to turn around a business hit by competition from China's Huawei <HWT.UL> and Finland's Nokia, falling spending by telecoms operators and the hangover from a failed plan to diversify.

But Cevian, which said in February it had 8.5 percent of the share capital and 5 percent of votes in Ericsson, said the company needed to lift the pace.

"I want the work to remove losses ... it has been a bit too slow and the speed must be raised," managing partner Christer Gardell told Reuters ahead of Ericsson's annual general meeting close to its north Stockholm headquarters.

Ericsson is aiming for at least 10 billion Swedish crowns (850 million pounds) of annual savings by mid-2018. Chief Executive Borje Ekholm, told reporters on Wednesday the company would reach that "well on time".

Cevian wants Ericsson to hit its margin targets ahead of schedule. The company has set a goal for an operating margin of at least 10 percent by 2020 and at least 12 percent beyond 2020.

Cevian's portfolio also includes large positions in European blue-chips such as ABB and Thyssenkrupp. It recently took a stake worth around $850 million in Swedish airbag and seat belt maker Autoliv.

Ekholm said Ericsson, which is waiting for demand for next-generation mobile networks to increase, was well-placed, having won up to 50 percent of 5G contracts worldwide so far.

"We see a much faster acceleration for 5G than we thought earlier. Maybe not as fast in Europe, but incredibly fast in North America and Asia," he said.

The former boss of high-flying mining gear maker Atlas Copco, Ronnie Leten, is due to take up his post as Ericsson's chairman on Wednesday. The appointment of Leten, who succeeds Leif Johansson, has boosted investors' hopes of a recovery at the company.

Ekholm said the incoming chairman favoured decentralisation, clear accountability, and would aim to simplify how the company works.

"He is a great industry leader who will add a new approach to the firm," Ekholm said.

The fourth quarter of last year was Ericsson's fifth straight quarter of operating losses. It said in January the cost-cutting programme was saving around 6 billion crowns on an annual basis at that time.

The company has also pledged to deliver a gross margin of 37-39 percent. Its fourth quarter gross margin, excluding restructuring charges, was 30 percent, roughly unchanged from the third quarter.

(Editing by Niklas Pollard and Mark Potter)

By Helena Soderpalm and Olof Swahnberg

Stocks treated in this article : thyssenKrupp, Nokia Oyj, Ericsson, Autoliv, ABB Ltd, Atlas Copco AB

Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
ABB LTD -3.77% 22.39 Delayed Quote.-0.21%
ASTRAZENECA PLC -2.06% 7880 Delayed Quote.5.90%
AUTOLIV, INC. -4.09% 677.4 Delayed Quote.-15.12%
ERICSSON AB -2.90% 100.65 Delayed Quote.23.22%
NOKIA OYJ -4.65% 3.447 Delayed Quote.3.06%
THYSSENKRUPP AG -5.16% 4.048 Delayed Quote.-67.18%
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Financials
Sales 2020 232 B 26 176 M 26 176 M
Net income 2020 15 342 M 1 733 M 1 733 M
Net cash 2020 19 662 M 2 221 M 2 221 M
P/E ratio 2020 22,5x
Yield 2020 1,51%
Capitalization 347 B 39 881 M 39 164 M
EV / Sales 2020 1,41x
EV / Sales 2021 1,31x
Nbr of Employees 99 826
Free-Float 89,0%
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Mean consensus OUTPERFORM
Number of Analysts 24
Average target price 116,34 SEK
Last Close Price 103,50 SEK
Spread / Highest target 35,7%
Spread / Average Target 12,4%
Spread / Lowest Target -16,9%
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Managers
NameTitle
Erik Börje Ekholm President, Chief Executive Officer & Director
Ronnie Leten Chairman
Carl Mellander CFO, Senior VP & Head-Group Function Finance
Erik Ekudden Chief Technology Officer & Senior Vice President
Torbjörn Nyman Director
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