Shares in French telecom equipment group Alcatel defied a falling Paris bourse to gain over 5% on October 28 after the company reported a rise in nine months sales in spite of bearish expectations. At midday, Alcatel shares were up 5.6% at 585 francs while the blue-chip index was down 1.9%. The group said total nine-month sales rose 2.4% to 93.2 billion French francs (USD16.86 billion) - a 4.5% increase on a like-for-like basis - while third-quarter sales were up 10.1% to 30.7 billion francs.The key telecom systems sector saw 8.9% higher sales in the nine months to 63.96 billion francs with a 10.1% rise in the third quarter. "Third quarter 1998 Telecom sales showed an improvement in the rate of growth, as compared to the first half growth performance," Chairman Serge Tchuruk said in a statement. "Given our present trends, the objective of around 10% sales growth in the Telecom sector for the full year should be reached," he added. "Our growth strategy in the US will be particularly successful in 1998. Finally, the Cables and Components sector, while operating well in a very difficult environment during the first nine months of 1998, has increased its market share and confirmed its superior competitive position," Tchuruk said. "The group's goal of 10% growth in telecoms sales for the year, which could have seemed optimistic in September, now looks easily within reach for the...

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