It's a rare bird in today's stormy market that can fly upward despite a revenue and earnings warning. But this morning, fiber-channel and storage-networking firm Brocade (NASDAQ:BRCD) was just such an animal, shooting up 5% before settling back down to a position slightly in the red.

The problem: Revenues are expected to come in below the more sanguine predictions made back in February. That means Q2's sales will come in between $144 million and $145 million, vs. the $151 million-$165 million originally expected. The total would be flat with last year's second quarter -- though management notes that in 2004, there was an extra week in the period, which brought in a bonus $5 million. Even giving the firm a mulligan on that yields a 3.6% year-over-year increase. That's on top of last quarter's none-too-hearty 11% year-over-year increase.

The reason given may be among the lamest I've ever heard: "greater seasonality," whatever that is supposed to mean. (Raise your hand if you'd like to see someone admit for once, "We just didn't sell as much stuff as we thought we would. Sorry.")

Earnings are expected to come through at $0.07 per share. That will look like a handy improvement over last year's penny per stub, but investors should keep their eyes on a couple of other line items.

Inventory is one. (It's not huge, but lately, it's growing more quickly than sales.) Accounts receivable is another, bigger issue. Why did A/R increase at nearly three times the rate of sales for the January quarter? Are things any better this time around?

We've come a long way -- down, mostly -- from the days when everyone seemed to think Brocade was the next big thing, along with all those other next big things. And though the firm is no longer as expensive as it once was, now trading for an enterprise value of just 1.8 times sales, investors need to ask themselves whether they want to be involved with a slow-growing tech also-ran that competes against the likes of Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO), as well as against the entity to be created from the merger of McData (NASDAQ:MCDTA) and Computer Network Technology (NASDAQ:CMNT).

Sales have been flat at the latter two as well, and that suggests that the IT world really isn't all that hot for what these folks are peddling. Price your bets accordingly.

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Seth Jayson loves tech but hates most tech stocks. At the time of publication, he had positions in no company mentioned. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here. Fool rules are here.