There must be 50 ways to defrag a quarter. You can't blame Seagate Technology (NYSE:STX) for trying to find them all. Back in October, the company initiated guidance for its March quarter, looking to earn between $0.45 and $0.47 a share. In January, after a dud of a quarter ripe with disappointments and bloated inventory levels, the company scaled back its projections.

It was then expecting to earn between $0.20 and $0.30 a share for the March quarter. Last night, in what should be the period's final hosing down, Seagate revealed that it will probably earn between $0.06 and $0.08 a share.

Like a limbo stick with thorns, this one has been prickly all the way down. Wince away but don't say we didn't warn you. We were critical of the company when it chose to go public -- again -- two years ago. Earlier this year, Jeff Hwang also rang a warning bell.

While some investors may be tempted to snap up a stock that's been cut in half from its October high, Fools know better than to chase companies whose pricing power is vulnerable to intense competition. Given that fact, Seagate is a pretty easy company to steer clear of.

Hard drives are a commodity. A company like Seagate can talk a big game about sticking to its guns and holding prices firm, but history hasn't been kind. If rivals like Maxtor (NYSE:MXO) and Western Digital (NYSE:WDC) are in a discounting mood, the industry has to follow suit or see its inventory collect cobwebs.

After all, these things are mere components in laptops and personal computers that have themselves been reduced to commodity status -- unless the names Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) or Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) are slapped on the box . Where is the glory in buying vanilla by the gallon?

If you are going to invest, buy into companies that have distinct pricing advantages or have built a protective moat through innovation. Our Hidden Gems and Stock Advisor newsletters look for that and more when scouring the stock universe for promising recommendations.

While a roughed-up company like Seagate may eventually make a compelling argument based on its balance sheet, let's not get started on valuations based on forward earnings. As you've seen with this storage company, most of those targets appear to be re-writeable.

Is Dell really worth a premium in a cutthroat field? Why aren't computer makers held to the same commodity status as are many component manufacturers like Seagate? All this and more -- in the Dell discussion board. Only on

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz can't honestly tell you who made the hard drive in any of his last few computers. He does not own shares in any companies mentioned in this story.