Ciena, which makes optical and Carrier Ethernet products for telecommunications companies, announced during today’s earnings call that its fourth quarter revenue dropped 17 percent over the same quarter a year ago to $179.7 million.

Ciena’s fourth-quarter results, which ended Oct. 31, were down 29 percent when compared to the previous third quarter.

In September, Ciena warned that its sales were slated to be weaker than it previously forecast, but today’s fourth quarter revenue of $179.7 million were below September’s projection of between $190 million to $210 million.

The fourth-quarter net loss was $25.4 million, or 28 cents a share, compared with a profit of $30.4 million, or 30 cents, a year earlier.

“While our fiscal fourth quarter results clearly demonstrate the effects of a challenging macroeconomic and industry environment, Ciena made meaningful strategic progress during the year and delivered a strong fiscal 2008,” said Gary Smith, Ciena’s president and CEO. “Longer term, we believe that underlying capacity demands and our customers’ business need to transition to more efficient networks remain fundamental demand drivers for our business. Our short-term visibility is limited, however, as the rapidly unfolding macroeconomic climate causes increased capex scrutiny among our customers.

“While we expect the current, challenging environment will persist through 2009, our goal and our focus is to manage our business to be both profitable on an as-adjusted basis and cash-flow positive for the year,

Smith estimated that first-quarter sales next year will be in the range of $170 milllion-$185 million, which was below the $194 million average by Wall Street analysts.

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