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The Associated Press

STOCKHOLM — Mobile phone maker on Friday said its loss in the fourth quarter narrowed 9 percent from a year ago to $235 million, with improved margins and lower costs offsetting a slump in sales.

The company recently announced plans to close its North American headquarters in Research Triangle Park, N.C., and move it to Atlanta.

sSales fell 40 percent as the joint venture between LM Ericsson and Sony Corp. was caught unprepared by consumers’ rapid shift to touch screen phones.

Bert Nordberg, Sony Ericsson’s new president, said that although he expects 2010 to be a challenging year, he is confident the group’s cost-cutting measures and move toward more mid- and high-end products has put his company "on the right track."

"We will continue to focus on returning the company to profitability by establishing Sony Ericsson as the communication entertainment brand based on an exciting portfolio," he said, pointing to recently announced products such as its Android-based phone XPERIA X10.

Units shipped in the October-December period amounted to 14.6 million units, up 3 percent from the third quarter but still down 40 percent from the same period a year ago.