The past few weeks have been hard on the technology sector. A revenue warning here, a missed earnings prognosis there, a dash of worry about the global economy, a touch of concern over broken seasonal patterns -- put it all in a blender, and you get a grim smoothie of swooning tech giants:


52-Week Return

Distance to 52-Week Low Share Price

CAPS Rating (out of 5)

Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO)




Intel (Nasdaq: INTC)




Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM)




Level 3 Communications (Nasdaq: LVLT)




Applied Materials (Nasdaq: AMAT)




Source: Yahoo! Finance; 1-year returns assuming reinvested dividends, where appropriate.

This is by no means a complete list of downtrodden tech stocks in today's market, but a representative sampling for me to talk about in further detail. You can find more of them using a simple CAPS screen if you're in a bargain-hunting mood.

As you can see in this table, some of the most respected names in high technology are scraping the bottom of the barrel right now, skimming within inches of their 52-week lows.

This does not mean that you should rush out and sell every share of these big dogs; neither should you exercise your "buy" finger post-haste in order to capture a bucket of amazing discounts. Every case is different, and one size does not fit all of these stocks even if the same trends are affecting all of their share prices.

The undervalued winners
In this batch of potential value plays, only two tickers stand up and shout "Buy me!" in my opinion: Intel and Cisco.

I've had a few bones to pick with Cisco over the past year or so. The decision to start building server systems in direct competition with some of the company's most valued and storied partners still strikes me as particularly boneheaded, and I'm not sure that the acquisition of video conferencing specialist Tandberg is worth every penny of the increased $3.4 billion offer.

But these faults notwithstanding, we're still talking about Cisco here -- the undisputed leader in networking technology that looks set to capitalize on a building explosion of newfangled, bandwidth-hungry uses for the Internet such as high-definition movie streaming and remote medical services. One quarter of weak guidance does not qualify as a disaster for a company whose management operates under five-year plans.

Cisco will come back and should kill the market until at least 2015. You can bet on it.

Intel is a somewhat different story. Humbled by a downward revenue revision after last quarter's overly optimistic guidance, the stock is suffering dearly. You would also be forgiven for thinking that Intel might be hamstrung by the provisions of several legal setbacks in the eternal struggle against smaller competitor Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD).

Again, we're looking at a wounded tiger here. Intel is far and away the market leader in many important chip markets and has serious designs on making a move into the burgeoning mobile space. Meanwhile, Intel is generating very nearly the strongest cash flows in its long history and trades at a mere 9.2 times trailing free cash flows. That's cheap in any market and any industry, especially for a proven market leader.

Like Cisco, Intel will come back swinging.

The clear loser
The clear loser of these seemingly cheap stocks is Research In Motion. RIM and its BlackBerry product line are losing the smartphone war to Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) and others in a downright embarrassing fashion. BlackBerry used to be the apex of phone design and functionality, and any serious businessman needed one. Blindsided by the iPhone revolution and the following Android assault, RIM has proven unable to keep up with the changing times.

Ads for the latest BlackBerry Torch model claim that the handset is less of an evolutionary jump and more of a triple axel. That may have been RIM's intention, but it's hard to do a clean jump off a broken foot. This stock is going down in flames, I'm afraid.

Just the in-betweens
L-3 and Applied Materials fall in between these extremes, and your mileage may vary depending on how you see their markets unfolding. Long term, I believe in Applied Material for much the same reason that I believe in Cisco and Intel: The good times will come back eventually, and chip makers like Intel need the products and services this company is peddling in order to turn the next corner. But that tipping point is still not here, with the stock trading some 20% below where I warned you to wait this one out. Keep holding your horses until further notice.

And everybody loves Level 3 except me. I still don't quite get what makes this habitual cash-burner so attractive to its hordes of supporters, even after having it explained to me in great detail. On the plus side, there seems to be a turnaround brewing here, so I can't write this stock off completely. Keep an eye on this one.

Back to Investing 101
Like I said, you can't just buy or sell the entire tech industry without discrimination, even when it looks like every stock is suffering under the same terrible market conditions. Do your research on a stock-by-stock basis before jumping headlong into the wrong decision.

Do you see any obvious bargains or busts in this technology market? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. Intel is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. The Fool has written calls (Bull Call Spread) on Cisco Systems. The Fool owns shares of and has written puts on Intel. Motley Fool Options has recommended buying calls on Intel. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.