Updated since 8:30am EST with company comment.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Ciena ( CIEN) tripped in the fiscal first quarter and its shares took a 9% fall Thursday.

Steeper than expected losses and a big miss on sales targets point to potential troubles in tech land, but Ciena says the problem is largely of it's own making.

Ciena failed to book about $10 million in revenue last quarter due to delays in contract closings and component shortages. But the shortfall was not a reflection of a continued chill in technology spending as much as it was Ciena's inability to finalize product sales on time, says CEO Gary Smith

Increased sales momentum isn't always a smooth path and this past quarter proved that "it's patchy," says Smith, who is nonetheless confident that Ciena will get back on track.

"The sentiment is improving," Smith says, referring to the business outlook among Ciena customers. "The U.S. is ahead of Europe," says Smith regarding the pattern of the spending recovery. "Our pipeline is building up and our order flow is good," says Smith.

The Linthicum, Md. networking equipment shop posted an adjusted net loss -- excluding one-time items -- of $11.4 million or 12 cents a share. That is a wider deficit than the $8.3 million, or 9 cents a share loss Ciena posted in the year-ago quarter and below the 6 cent loss analysts were looking for, according to Yahoo! Finance.

Sales for the quarter ended in January were $175.9 million, up from the $167.4 million level a year ago and below the $184.5 million target analysts were expecting. Gross margin in the quarter was 45.6%, wider than the 42.9% margin last year at the same time.

Ciena sells network equipment to telcos like AT&T ( T) and Verizon ( VZ), two shops looking to cut spending. The deployment delays could be seen as a sign that telcos are putting off spending on expansion projects, a potentially troubling sign for gear peers like Cisco ( CSCO) and Juniper ( JNPR).

Looking ahead, Smith forecast fiscal second quarter sales of about $190 million. Analysts had estimated sales to be closer to $194.5 million. Ciena also expects gross margins to be in the mid to high 40% range.

Ciena said it expects its acquisition of the failed Nortel optical networking assets to close later this month. Analysts and investors have worried that the purchase of the Nortel business would be a challenging integration effort.

Ciena shares are up 32% so far this year, but the disappointing first quarter results knocked the shares down 9% to $13.24 in premarket trading Thursday.

--Written by Scott Moritz in New York.

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