In Business News: Assa Abloy; Skanska; Ericsson

The world’s largest lock-maker, Assa Abloy of Sweden, posted lower than expected fourth-quarter pre-tax earnings but says it expects further good sales growth and higher operating margins.

Assa Abloy made a pre-tax profit of just over US$84 million. President and chief executive Bo Dankis said, ”2004 was a good year for Assa Abloy and well in line with our long-term plan.”

Nordic construction giant Skanska posted a drop in its fourth-quarter profit and revenue, but said 2005 would likely see an improvement because of new building contracts. The Stockholm-based company was founded in 1887 and employs some 60,000 workers in Europe and North and South America.

Swedish telecommunications giant Ericsson says that 2005 is set to be the year of mobile broadband. At the 3GSM World Congress in France, the company painted a portrait of fast downloads for cell phone users as it introduced Mobile Triple Play. Triple play is the term for when telephony, the Internet and television broadcasts are provided in one package.