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posted fourth-quarter numbers that were better than analysts expected Tuesday, concluding a year that the company conceded "proved to be a challenging" one.

For the fourth quarter ended July 31, the Chelmsford, Mass., maker of optical networking products posted a loss of $9.7 million, or 4 cents a share, on revenue of $10.9 million. A year ago the company lost $73.5 million, or 28 cents a share, on revenue of $8.5 million. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call had called for a 5-cent loss on revenue of $10 million.

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"Despite difficult market conditions, Sycamore remained focused on financial management, technology innovation and customer relationships," CEO Daniel Smith said. "Each of these areas will continue to be a top priority in fiscal year 2004."

After rising 13 cents during regular trading to close at $4.40, Sycamore shares tumbled a penny in postclose action to $4.39.