Apple yesterday announced a first-quarter 2003 net loss of $8 million on gross revenues of $1.472 billion.

The results compare to a net profit of $38 million in the year-ago quarter, although revenues were up 7 per cent on that quarter. However, gross margins fell from 30.7 to 27.6 per cent. International sales accounted for 43 per cent of the quarter's revenues.

The quarter did include a number of one-off charges, explained chief financial officer Fred Anderson. These included a $17 million after-tax restructuring charge and a $2 million after-tax accounting transition adjustment.

Unit shipments remained about even on the year-ago quarter, at 743,000 units.

Despite the loss, Anderson maintained a positive stance during a difficult financial call: "We have a very strong new product pipeline for 2003, which we kicked off by introducing the two most advanced notebook computers in the industry last week at Macworld.

"We're going to keep investing through this downturn and continue to move our products and distribution channels ever further ahead of our competitors, so that when the economy rebounds we will be positioned for growth.?

Anderson returned to the latter theme frequently during last night's announcement of results, explaining Apple's strategy to invest in innovation and by building a network for sales - for example, Apple's retail chain - that it hopes will reap rewards once the downturn ends. "The strategy of investing in retail is beginning to pay off," he said.

Analysts participating in last night's financial call implied that Apple should consider "monetizing" certain product lines, conceivably including the iApps.

Anderson was vehement in his resistance to this: "We are not going to mortgage the future for short-term monetization - Apple is an innovation-based company," he said.

The CFO also denied recent analyst claims that "Apple does not have a strong pipeline of future products coming".

He said: "Contrary to reports we have an incredibly strong line-up of future products."

Admitting to continued weakness in Power Mac sales, Anderson said: "We acknowledge that the biggest challenge we have is to get Power Mac sales up to at least 200,000 units per quarter. Apple's management is very focused on that and we have plans to address that."

"We were extremely pleased to achieve our revenue target for the first quarter while reducing channel inventories by 11 per cent within the quarter,? said Anderson.

Apple was able to increase its cash reserves to over $4.4 billion.

Looking forward, Anderson warned:"We expect revenue to be relatively flat with the December quarter, and expect a slight profit for the (second) quarter.?

A QuickTime audio broadcast of the financial results conference is available.