LM Ericsson, the wireless equipment maker, said Friday it lost about $333 million in the fourth quarter and nearly $2 billion for all of 2001 - its first annual loss.

The Stockholm-based company projected tough market conditions will ``persist well into 2002'' for mobile communications technology. But president and chief executive Kurt Hellstroem said the company has reshaped itself and is positioned to profit when the global economy improves.

``Considering the circumstances - we've gone through the worst year ever in telecommunications, I think everybody agrees on that - I am actually quite satisfied with the closing of the books,'' Hellstroem said in an interview with Swedish radio.

Its shares were down 6 percent at 46.70 kronor ($4.43) in afternoon trading on the Stockholm Stock Exchange.

Ericsson said its quarterly loss for the last three months of 2001 was 3.5 billion kronor compared to a profit of 2.25 billion kronor in 2000.

Fourth-quarter sales were 58.5 billion kronor ($5.6 billion), down 29 percent from 82.1 billion kronor in 2000.

Analysts were disappointed by Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications, the joint venture launched in October by Ericsson and Sony Corp. to turn around their ailing handset operations.

Sony Ericsson had a net loss of 1.4 billion kronor ($132 million) on sales of 6.8 million phones in the fourth quarter.

For the year, the loss amounted to 21.3 billion kronor in sales of 231.8 billion kronor. In 2000, it reported a profit of 21.0 billion kronor on sales of 273.6 billion kronor.

The company said it shed 22,100 jobs during the last nine months, arranged licensing agreements that should bolster handset sales and achieved positive cash flow. It projects an operating margin of at least five percent this year.

Ericsson projected global sales for mobile phones will be about 430 million units this year, up 10 percent over 2001. The increase will largely be registered in the second half of the year, the company projected.

``We are now in a much stronger position to capitalize on market opportunities and restore profitability in 2002,'' Hellstroem stated in the quarterly report.

The company, founded in Stockholm in 1876, is the world's largest manufacturer of equipment used in mobile telephone networks.

It operates in about 140 countries and employed 85,200 at yearend, down from 107,300 last March.