Despite news that politicians are working on the "fiscal cliff," stocks are starting the day off in the red, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) and the broader S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) down 0.36% and 0.44%, respectively, as of 10:15 EST.

The micro view
After yesterday's close, Dell (UNKNOWN:UNKNOWN) reported its results for its fiscal third quarter ending Nov. 2. The Austin, Texas-based PC manufacturer earned $0.40 per share, missing the consensus estimate by a penny. Revenue also came in below expectations at $13.7 billion versus expectations of $13.9 billion. The worst-performing business segment by far was "Consumer": revenue fell by nearly a quarter year on year. The market's response is unequivocal this morning, with shares down 6.2% at 10:15 a.m. EST.

On Wednesday, I suggested in this column that Hewlett-Packard's (NYSE:HPQ) daily outperformance was related to that of Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO), which had posted excellent results after Tuesday's close, as the two companies exhibit high correlation between their earnings per share. We appear to be witnessing the same effect -- in the opposite direction, mind you -- linking HP's performance today to Dell's, with HP losing 2.75%. In theory, the link should be even tighter, as Dell is more similar to HP than Cisco is. On a long-term basis, HP, Cisco, and Dell have performed horrendously:

DELL Total Return Price Chart

DELL Total Return Price data by YCharts.

All three tech stalwarts are in some stage of a turnaround and are cheap on the basis of estimates for next 12 months' EPS estimates. HP, arguably the most troubled, is also by a wide margin the cheapest at 3.6 times its EPS estimate. However, Cisco's shares look to me to offer the best prospects, on a risk-adjusted basis. If you're interested in a comprehensive assessment of that opportunity, click here to receive our technology analyst's premium report, which includes a full year of updates.

Alex Dumortier, CFA has no positions in the stocks mentioned above; you can follow him @longrunreturns. The Motley Fool has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Dell. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.