IT and Apple distributor Ingram Micro announced a net loss of $265.4 million yesterday.

The loss was attributed primarily to a $280.9 million charge against earnings in accordance with new, post-Enron accounting rules.

The company earned $13.5 million – not including one-time gains, charges, and restructuring costs – in excess of analysts’ estimates. ($0.09 per share against $0.06 per share estimated.)

Ingram Micro returned revenues of $5.62 billion for the first quarter, which ended March 30. This was down from $7.19 billion in the same quarter last year.

A market in flux The market for computer equipment remains difficult to predict, and the company doesn’t expect strong demand to return in the second quarter, said Kent Foster, chairman and CEO.

Ingram Micro warned investors to expect a sequential decline in sales of four per cent to seven per cent – a range of $5.25 billion to $5.4 billion. The company expects a profit, before special items (such as purchases, restructuring, and acquisitions) of $6 million to $9 million for the second quarter.

Foster said he didn’t expect to see major changes in the company’s gross margins, given the economic environment.

“I can only say that we have significant opportunities to lower our operating expenses,” he said. “But these changes are driven by business-process improvements. We’re not going to stop until we’re the most cost-effective distributor in the industry.”

Ingram Micro’s shares closed at $15.99 on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday, unchanged from the opening price, before the results were announced.