Finnish kit maker reports 4% fall in revenue; gross margin expands.

Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri this week talked up his company’s improving business momentum, after reporting a narrower first quarter net loss.

"We slowed the rate of topline decline and generated healthy orders in what is typically a seasonally weak quarter for us," he said, in a statement on Thursday. "We also continued to see expansion of cross-selling across our full portfolio, delivered excellent gross margins and improved group-level profitability."

Indeed, underlying sales fell 4% year-on-year to €5.39 billion in the three months to 31 March; a year earlier, sales were down 9%. Nokia also saw a slight improvement in gross margin, which expanded to 40.8% from 39.7%. Reported net loss narrowed to €435 million from €712 million a year earlier.

Nokia’s Networks business saw sales fall 6% to €4.90 billion, due to flat sales of mobile networks and applications and analytics solutions, and falling sales of fixed network kit.

"Fixed Networks, which had an excellent 2016, was impacted by several large deployments coming to an end," Suri said.

"Despite this, we are seeing growing traction in cross-selling in markets where Nokia has traditionally been strong, and are continuing to invest in the promising cable market," he added.

The company’s Technologies division saw sales jump 25% to €247 million, thanks to higher patent and brand licensing income, and the acquisition of wearables firm Withings.

"Overall, given Nokia’s performance in the first quarter, I am optimistic about the year ahead, even if cautiously so," Suri said.