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Tuesday, 4 February, 2003, 08:06 GMT
Alcatel remains mired in losses
Undersea cable
The market for telecoms technology is shrinking fast
French telecoms equipment maker Alcatel has posted its seventh straight quarterly net loss, and warned that sales could fall by as much as 30% early this year.

The company was cheered, however, by the news that its net losses - 1.1bn euros (720m; $1.2bn) for the last three months of 2002 - were 40% down on a year earlier, and by the fact that it recorded a modest operating profit.

Nonetheless, it means that the firm has now lost 4.8bn euros for 2002 as a whole, no significant improvement on 2001.

The company's shares were quoted some 7% lower art the beginning of trading in Paris.

Alcatel, hit by the global downturn in hi-tech spending, is in the midst of a sweeping package of cost cuts, including the culling of 40% of its staff.

Shrinking market

Alcatel is not the only firm in its field to be suffering at present.

On Monday, rival Ericsson also unveiled its seventh quarterly loss in a row, showing sales down as much as 36%.

But Alcatel is forecasting a more severe contraction in sales for the first quarter of this year, just as Ericsson has started to hint that sales could be stabilising.

Serge Tchuruk, Alcatel's chief executive, said the global telecoms equipment market would shrink by 15% this year.

Both companies are seen as especially vulnerable since they focus on selling technology to telecoms operators, which have sharply reined in investment over the past couple of years.

See also:

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