By Marie Mawa, Bloomberg


Alcatel-Lucent SA (ALU), France’s largest network-equipment vendor, reported a narrower third-quarter loss as Chief Executive Officer Michel Combes continued to cut costs to offset falling sales. The stock rose the most in a year.

The loss excluding some items narrowed to 9 million euros ($11.3 million) from 186 million euros a year earlier, the Paris-based company said today. The gross margin, a measure of profitability, widened to 34 percent, beating the 32 percent analysts predicted on average.

Combes has sought to focus on more profitable contracts while cutting jobs and selling assets to revive Alcatel-Lucent after years of losses. Persuading customers to spend more on network gear has proven more difficult, as carriers cope with falling earnings in Europe and pause in the U.S. after building higher-speed infrastructure.

“We improved profitability in most of our business lines,” Chief Financial Officer Jean Raby said on a conference call. “It’s thanks to a better mix, better products and a focus on profitable contracts.”

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