April is National Poetry Month. Here is our poem to honor this month.

When Mr. Market turns an angry bark
at companies that miss his average mark,
their shares may slide and prices start to fall;
but we Fools doubt the fairness of it all.

Three companies presented their reports
to furious fusillades from Wall Street's forts.
Dig deeper in the dirt to find a deal
as expectations prove themselves unreal.

Scene I. Level 3 Communications (Nasdaq: LVLT). A platform before the castle.
The loss was up to $0.12 for each share,
a penny short of estimates prepared.
But sales were strong, and management is sure
free cash flows will break even evermore.

OK, not quite: That aim is for '08.
With upgrades helping installation rate,
L3 keeps up with customer demand;
that balance and the cash go hand in hand.

The global appetite for bandwidth grows,
as video requires a fat hose
connecting server A to server B,
and pumping media to you and me.

If Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ) can assume
the Internet's still breezing up a plume
of dust behind its growth, then I don't see
how all that traffic won't help Level 3.

Scene II. Netgear (Nasdaq: NTGR). Brief interlude in a desert place.
A $0.39-per-share report
by fully $0.04 a share fell short;
the market's retribution, swift and sure
dropped Netgear's shares 15% and more.

3Com (Nasdaq: COMS) and Cisco's Linksys each lost share
to Netgear in the quarter, if you hear
what management is saying on the theme.
The market at this time's just not supreme.

Lay all the burden of the sordid miss
before the feet of sluggish Yanks and Brits.
Recovery will not come 'round unless
these two economies regain their zest.

The stock lost more than 44%
in just one year, and farther will descend
before such time as networks for your home
regain appeal, and shares once more will foam.

Scene III. Bank of America (NYSE: BAC). A public place.
The nation's second-largest bank descends
to earnings per share of $0.23.
Though analysts could hardly set a firm
consensus, the result still made them squirm.

At 44% below the mean
appraisal, due to mortgages unclean,
these earnings should have scared investors sick;
instead, the share price barely changed a tick.

Perhaps the worst scenario'd been baked
into the shares ahead of time, and slaked
the market's thirst for blood of Street view whiffs.
The failures show just magnitudes, not "ifs."

Exempli gratia: poor old Citigroup (NYSE: C),
$5 billion deep in red ink, dirt, and goop,
saw shares improve despite its gloomy tale,
thus showing that the banks may thrive and fail.

Investors in these stocks might sigh aloud
o'er stock charts that would not make Wall Street proud.
The rest of us should take another peep;
payouts like these will rarely come so cheap.

Scene IV. A bedchamber in the castle; a light burning.
Some failures only have themselves to blame,
but others were by outside forces shamed.
Sort out the winners from the sordid muck --
invest in those, good Fool, and make a buck.

Further Foolish Reading:

Seeking great deals on unfairly punished stocks? Philip Durell and his merry band of Fools at the Motley Fool Inside Value newsletter service are standing by to help you find great stocks at ridiculously low markdowns. Try a 30-day trial subscription to see whether bargain-hunting is right for you. Bank of America is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation, and Netgear is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in the companies discussed this week, and hopes that you enjoy heroic couplets in iambic pentameter. Take heart, you gentle Fools, and never fear; the end of National Poetry Month draws near. The Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy, and you can see Anders' current holdings for yourself.