File picture: Roni Rekomaa, Reuters

Stockholm - Nokia posted sales that missed analysts’ predictions in its first quarterly report as a combined company with Alcatel-Lucent, hurt by phone carriers cutting spending on wireless networks.

Sales in the first quarter fell 9 percent to 5.6 billion euros ($6.4 billion), Nokia said in a statement Tuesday. Analysts predicted 5.76 billion euros, the average of estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Adjusted gross margin was 39.4 percent, surpassing the average estimate of 37.4 percent.

Nokia bought Alcatel-Lucent to expand its product range beyond mobile infrastructure as demand from phone carriers wanes. CEO Rajeev Suri is betting on the deal to tap into newer products such as Internet-protocol networks, while boosting Nokia’s software offering and research and development capabilities to fend off rivals Ericsson and Huawei Technologies.

“Sales were a bit weak, but Nokia showed stronger profitability mostly because of Alcatel-Lucent’s contributions from its fixed-line and IP and applications businesses,” said Mattias Lundberg, an analyst at Swedbank AB in Stockholm.

Shares of Nokia fell 1.7 percent to 4.92 euros at 10:09 a.m. in Helsinki. They had tumbled 24 percent this year through Monday.

Read also: Nokia to slash thousands of jobs

The merger is also aimed at reducing costs. Nokia is set to eliminate about 10 000 to 15 000 positions from the combined staff of 104 000, seeking savings by reducing overlapping products, services and sales positions. Savings from the merger are set to surpass the company’s previous estimate and top 900 million euros in 2018, Nokia said.

Phone carriers are curbing investments after spending billions of dollars in the past years to build speedier fourth-generation networks so smartphones can stream video and audio more quickly. With much of the 4G networks already built in key markets such as the US and China, carriers’ investments are set to slump by 7 percent this year and a further 5 percent in 2017, according to Deutsche Bank.

Revenue at the networks business fell 8 percent last quarter, while sales from IP networks and applications rose 1 percent. Nokia continued to predict “market headwinds” in the wireless networks business for this year, forecasting a decline in network revenue. The adjusted operating margin in the networks business will be above 7 percent, Nokia forecast.

Bloomberg