Swedish tool and machinery maker Sandvik recorded a surprise first-quarter loss as its order intake fell more steeply than expected.

The company, whose UK operations are headquartered at Halesowen, yesterday announced a loss before tax of £36?million compared with a profit of £227?million in the same period last year. Analysts had expected the group to declare earnings of £27?million.

“The decline in earnings should be viewed in the light of Sandvik’s strategic decision to prioritise cash flow and inventory control during the current market conditions,” Sandvik said in its results statement.