Sony Ericsson posts $246M loss amid drop in sales

Sony Ericsson posted a $246 million loss for the fourth quarter, down from a profit of $495 million in the year-ago period, as sales dropped amid weakening consumer demand during the economic recession.

The joint venture between Japan's Sony and Sweden's Ericsson had net sales in the quarter of $3.86 billion, down from $5 billion in  fourth quarter 2007, and said it expects a weaker handset market in 2009, especially in the first half of the year.

The handset maker shipped 24.2 million phones in the quarter, down from 30.8 million in the year-ago period and down sequentially from the 25.7 million units it shipped in third quarter 2008. The average selling price of its handsets declined to $160.69, down from $163.34 in the fourth quarter last year. The company's global handset market share was 8 percent, down from 9.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2007, but unchanged from the 8.1 percent in the third quarter of 2008.

Sony Ericsson CEO Hideki Komiyama said last week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that the company would focus more on high-end handsets in 2009 that would bring larger margins, even if that meant a less diverse product portfolio. Komiyama said he expects the handset maker to maintain the 8 percent global market share, but that consumer sales, crimped by weaker demand, could be down as much as 6 percent in 2009.

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