Nortel shareholders were told at an annual general meeting Wednesday that business is getting better.

The company's stock value, though, has plummeted and is one-third the value it was one year ago.

"Nortel stock is at unacceptable levels," Nortel CEO Mike Zafirovski told shareholders at Wednesday's meeting.

"The telecommunications market has been in a state of uncertainty in the context of a generally weakened economy but even so, our stock price is disappointing and we want to share that disappointment with you."

Nortel shareholders told CTV Ottawa the company's performance has left them unimpressed with their return on investment.

"I'm not very happy about it. I mean, when the shareholders lose out and the customers lose out and the executives keep getting more money - that's disappointing," said one shareholder.

Nortel last week reported a US$138-million loss in the first quarter of this year, better than analyst expectations, on an 11 per cent revenue increase to US$2.76 billion.

As Zafirovski spoke Wednesday morning, Nortel stock was at C$8.69 on the TSX, up 21 cents on the day and up from an all-time low of $5.84 earlier this year, but down from a 52-week high of $28.62 almost a year ago.

Still, Zafirovski says the company is ahead of many of its competitors.

"We've outperformed most of our competitors for the past 21 months starting in the second half of 2006," he said.

He also says although there has been some consolidation in the telecom equipment sector, "there are still too many companies in our space."

With a report from CTV Ottawa's Paul Brent and files from The Canadian Press