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executive said the company's orders for the second quarter are "holding up" even as the telecommunications sector struggles with a spending slowdown.

Chief Executive Henry Schacht he expects improvement sequentially this quarter, but acknowledged the company's recent dismal performance, according to a published report.

Financial problems have plagued the once-proud Lucent. In late January the company reported fiscal first-quarter earnings that were

even worse than Wall Street's lowered expectations.

At the time, the Murray Hill, N.J., company also unveiled a seven-point restructuring plan that would reduce annual expenses by $2 billion. The company will take a charge of $1.2 billion to $1.6 billion in the second quarter to pay for the moves.

According to

The Wall Street Journal

, Schacht said that since the reorganization, financing is now evaluated by a new team of credit analysts and must go through the financial chief's office. The previous system allowed the company's 11 divisions to handle financing to customers.

He said the benefits of the cost-cutting plan wouldn't be realized until the fourth quarter. Twenty-five analysts polled by

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First Call/Thomson Financial

are calling for the company to lose 21 cents in the second quarter, compared with earnings of 21 cents a year ago. Analysts forecast a 54-cent loss for the year.

The chief executive also said the company has almost completed negotiations for $6.5 billion in bank lines of credit.

Reports saying Lucent might put its optical fiber unit up for sale surfaced yesterday, with the speculation naming rivals such as






as potential buyers.

Shares of Lucent gained 78 cents, or 6.7%, to $12.38 in recent

New York Stock Exchange