Broadcom (NASDAQ:BRCM) coughed up another inventory hair ball yesterday, surprising analysts and sending investors running for the broom closets, with the stock down more than 11% in early trading. Yuck. Enough with that metaphor. Broadcom, after all, isn't alone with these woes. Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO), and many others have disappointed the faithful, even if the faithful don't always realize it.

Yesterday's earnings release shows that Broadcom's sins aren't apparent on the top or bottom lines. Revenues were up 52% to $647 million, and earnings (before charges) reached $0.36 per share, 157% better than last year's noncharge total, and ahead of analysts' guesses. The real trickle down to shareholders was $0.14 per share, still better than last year's $0.02 loss.

Apparently, being the world leader in gigabyte Ethernet networking chips and getting cozy with Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) isn't enough to guarantee success for shareholders -- unless maybe Cupertino starts stuffing wireless chips into iPods.

The real problem was the warning that upcoming quarters' revenues would continue to disappoint because of excess inventory, a situation exacerbated by the fact that Broadcom bet on Intel's 64-bit server chips, which are being walloped in the marketplace by AMD's (NYSE:AMD) Opteron -- for which Broadcom is still developing supporting products.

But don't say you weren't warned that something like this might happen. Certain rain clouds, such as my colleague Bill Mann, have been skeptical of the much-anticipated increase in computer demand. Overall PC purchases have, in fact, grown more slowly than the cheerleaders were hoping. That's not to say that certain companies -- AMDcomes to mind -- haven't done pretty well despite a less-than-easy market. But wishing won't make it reality, and investing in companies that are priced for optimism can bring plenty of regret.

This is a sector that hasn't given investors a lot of warm fuzzies over the past year. But it bears watching. If leaders such as Broadcom and Cisco continue to get clobbered, investors may find a suitable entry point to take advantage of sunnier days ahead, whenever they may come.

For related Foolishness from Bill Mann:

A cigarette-smoking Basque teenager once told Seth Jayson, over a bottle of Kalimocho in Pamplona, never to run with the bulls. He listened, and thus at the time of publication, he had positions in no company mentioned. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here. Fool rules are here.