Women's and children's apparel maker Marisa Christina Inc has seen its third quarter earnings fall to $1.7 million, compared to $1.9m posted in the same period last year.

The Los Angeles-based label also recorded net sales of $10.3m for the quarter, down from $10.5m in 2002, with gross profit making up 37.9 per cent of that figure.

Operating expenses, however, were down at $2.3m for the quarter, compared to $2.5m for the same period a year earlier.

"The third quarter sales were in line with our projections and so were our planned savings in overhead," chairman Michael Lerner said.

"Unfortunately, our gross margin was adversely affected by an extremely difficult retail environment and a variety of other factors."

Marisa Christina is a designer, manufacturer, sourcer and marketer of higher-end clothing for women and children, including its signature sweater line.