Sweden's Ericsson reported fourth-quarter core earnings above market estimates, helped by higher sales of telecom gear as more countries roll out 5G networks offsetting a loss of market share in mainland China.

The company's quarterly adjusted operating earnings rose to 11.9 billion Swedish crowns ($1.28 billion) from 11 billion a year ago, beating the mean forecast of 10.30 billion, according to Refinitiv data.

Total revenue rose 2% to 71.3 billion crowns, beating estimates of 68.33 billion crowns. Sales in mainland China declined by 1.8 billion crowns, meaning that excluding mainland China organic sales growth was 5%.

A resurgent Nokia increasing competition in several markets and the loss of telecom contracts in China following a ban of Huawei by the Swedish government had been dragging down Ericsson's revenue.

The proportion of revenue Ericsson earns from China has dropped to around 3%, the company has previously said, from 10-11% before the domestic Swedish ban on Huawei.

Sales at Ericsson's networks unit grew by 3% and gross margin rose to 46.4% from 43.5%.

In an effort to broaden its 5G portfolio Ericsson has spent more than $7 billion to buy two companies - cloud communications firm Vonage and wireless network gear maker Cradlepoint.