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sees little relief from the industrywide ill winds that have played havoc with its once-thriving business.

The company, which sells optical networking gear, saw first-quarter revenue fall 72% from a year ago amid a loss of appetite for new equipment among phone companies battling their own falling sales and heavy debts.

For its first quarter ended Oct. 26, the Chelmsford, Mass., company posted a loss of $17.4 million, or 7 cents a share, on revenue of $5.9 million. A year ago the company lost $248 million, or $1 a share, after charges, on revenue of $21.2 million. On a pro forma basis excluding certain costs, Sycamore's loss narrowed to $15 million, or 6 cents a share, from $39.2 million, or 16 cents a share, a year earlier.

The company made dour comments about coming periods as well, keeping it in line with its communications industry peers. Sycamore now expects second-quarter revenue to be in a range between $6 million to $12 million. Consensus, according to Multex, is for $7.7 million, down from $21.8 million the year earlier. The company also said gross margins will continue to be affected by poor sales; first-quarter gross margins were negative 20%.

The company has $1.02 billion in cash, down $24.7 million sequentially. The company expects it will be $10 million to $25 million lighter in cash by the end of the current quarter. Sycamore is attempting to preserve its cash in part by focusing on its optical switch, having shut down most of its transport development efforts.

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"During the first quarter of fiscal 2003, Sycamore realized the full impact of its June restructuring program," CEO Daniel E. Smith said in a postclose press release. "We continue to carefully control costs with an emphasis on preserving our strong cash position, while making the necessary investments that will enable us to best address the needs of customers and prospects."

Sycamore shares rose 8 cents to close Tuesday at $2.56.

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