HELSINKI, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Nokia reported better-than-expected quarterly profits on Thursday as a one-off patent payment from China's biggest smartphone maker offset weak global sales of its mainstay network equipment.
The Finnish company published its financial results after a dismal report from rival Ericsson which showed on Wednesday a fifth straight quarter of losses for the Swedish company amid an industry-wide slump in demand.
Nokia's fourth-quarter group earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) increased 7 percent from a year ago to 1.0 billion euros ($1.2 billion), well above analysts' average forecast of 888 million euros in a Reuters poll.
The profits were boosted by a one-off patent payment of 210 million euros from China's Huawei. Operating profit from the networks business fell 25 percent year-on-year.
Chief Executive Rajeev Suri cautioned that its worldwide network sales were expected to remain weak, but a potential rebound of spending by operators in the Americas could help.
"We expect our market to decline again in 2018, although at a slightly lower rate than our previous forecast, given early signs of improved conditions in North America," he said in a statement.
He said he expected market conditions to improve markedly in 2019 and 2020 due to rollouts of next-generation 5G networks. ($1 = 0.8059 euros) (Reporting by Jussi Rosendahl and Tuomas Forsell; Editing by Eric Auchard)