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Judging by the rock bottom valuations of certain large-cap technology companies, it seems that tech stocks have entered a new era. Investors are shunning "old tech" firms like Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ), Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) and Research In Motion (RIMM) while embracing "new tech" companies like LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD), Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) and, most recently, Pandora (NYSE:P). Unfortunately, many past pronouncements of "new eras" were ultimately revealed as misplaced. At the very least, investors tend to underestimate the staying power of well-financed companies that appear to be "down" but are not yet "out".

Investors today may want to reconsider their extreme pessimism regarding the tech giants listed below. Most of these companies remain leaders in their respective fields, with at least some moat around their core businesses. Consider Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) in operating systems and business productivity software, Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) in enterprise data centers, or Intel (INTC) in microprocessors. In some cases, tech giants are trading at industrial company valuations, or worse. Whatever issues one may perceive regarding these companies -- the competitive challenges are real, to be sure -- it's hard to ignore the strong balance sheets and valuations of well under ten times free cash flow.

The attractiveness of large-cap tech stocks has not been lost on some of the savviest value investment managers in the business, including David Einhorn (he likes Microsoft), Bruce Berkowitz (Cisco), David Tepper (Hewlett-Packard), Glenn Greenberg (also HP), Zeke Ashton (Dell), Sandy Nairn (Intel), Eddie Lampert (Cisco), Prem Watsa (Dell), Mason Hawkins (also Dell), and Charles de Vaulx (Microsoft). Some of these investors have shunned technology stocks for most of their careers, but they apparently can't resist the prices at which the companies are trading today.

We find the following eight large-cap tech stocks particularly noteworthy:

Applied Materials (NASDAQ:AMAT) is trading at $13 per share; +35%/-18% to reach 52-week high/low. Market value (MV) is $17 billion, enterprise value (EV) is $13 is billion. It is the world’s largest semiconductor fabrication equipment supplier, a leading supplier of LCD fabrication equipment to flat panel display makers and the leading supplier of solar photovoltaic manufacturing systems to the solar industry. New orders jumped 150% from $4.1 billion in 2009 to $10.2 billion in 2010, while revenue rose 90% during the same period. Analysts expect Applied to earn $1.42 per share in the fiscal year ending October 31, 2011 (9x P/E), with $1.40 (9x) and $1.03 (12x) in subsequent years. The company recently reported FQ2 net sales of $2.9 billion, up 25% year over year and 7% sequentially. One question weighing on investors' minds seems to be whether the pending $4.9 billion acquisition of Varian (NASDAQ:VSEA) will be a value-creating event for shareholders or an empire-building event for management.

Cisco Systems (CSCO) is trading at $15 per share; +72%/-1% to reach 52-week high/low. MV is $83 billion, EV is $57 billion. Cisco provides IP networking equipment, holding three-fourths of the market for switches and roughly a 60% share in routers. Asia-Pacific revenue rose 17% from $3.7 billion in 2009 to $4.4 billion in 2010, while total revenue rose 11% to $40 billion during the same period. The Street expects Cisco to earn $1.60 per share in the fiscal year ending July 31, 2011 (9x P/E), followed by $1.73 (9x) and $1.89 (8x) in each of the next two years, respectively. The company has $27 billion of net cash and $28 billion of tangible book value. Adjusting for net cash would bring the estimated P/E ratio down to 7x for the fiscal year ending July 31, 2011, 6x for FY12 and 6x for FY13. Cisco has been a long-time disappointment for investors and CEO John Chambers has stumbled with misguided consumer initiatives and an uninspiring product roadmap. However, the fact remains that no other data networking provider can challenge Cisco's dominance, either today or in the foreseeable future. For more on Cisco, read our recent article here.

Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) is trading at $15 per share; +10%/-27% to reach 52-week high/low. MV is $29 billion, EV is $22 billion. Dell is the leading supplier of PCs in the U.S. and the #2 supplier globally behind HP (international revenue is roughly one-half of the total). Revenue from large enterprise customers rose 25% from $14.3 billion in 2009 to $17.8 billion in 2010, while total revenue rose 16% to $61.5 billion during the same period. Consensus estimates call for Dell to earn $1.89 per share in the fiscal year ending January 31, 2012 (8x P/E), followed by $1.91 (8x) and $1.87 (8x) in each of the next two years, respectively. Dell's growth and earnings have been challenged by lower-cost notebook alternatives and tablets. While Dell seems unlikely to regain its former business model nor its innovator position in the computer industry, the company has smart, shareholder-friendly management that appears unlikely to mis-allocate large amounts of capital.

Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) is trading at $35 per share; +40%/0% to reach 52-week high/low. MV is $73 billion, EV is $83 billion. HP provides printing and computing hardware, software and IT infrastructure, with roughly one-third of sales from services. Imaging and printing revenue increased 7% from $24.0 billion in 2009 to $25.8 billion in 2010, while total revenue rose 10% to $126 billion during the same period. Wall Street expects HP to earn $5.02 per share in the fiscal year ending October 31, 2011 (7x P/E), followed by $5.36 (7x) and $5.76 (6x) in subsequent years. New CEO Leo Apotheker has his work cut out for him in terms of winning the confidence of skeptical HP investors. For more on HP, read our recent article here.

Intel (INTC) is trading at $21 per share; +12%/-18% to reach 52-week high/low. MV is $113 billion, EV is $104 billion. Intel is the world's largest chip maker, providing microprocessors and related chipsets and motherboards for PCs, servers, notebooks, and storage devices. Asia-Pacific revenue rose 29% from $19.3 billion in 2009 to $25.0 billion in 2010, while total revenue rose 24% to $43.6 billion during the same period. The Street expects Intel to earn $2.29 per share in 2011 (9x P/E), followed by $2.39 (9x) and $2.33 (9x) in each of the next two years, respectively. Whether the move to cloud computing means that the industry will bypass Intel remains to be seen. We would not bet against this chip giant, but we find some of the other companies on this list more compelling from a strategic and valuation perspective.

Microsoft (MSFT) is trading at $24 per share; +24%/-4% to reach 52-week high/low. MV is $200 billion, EV is $162 billion. Microsoft is the world's largest software maker, with unrivaled franchises in business software (Office suite) and operating systems (Windows) as well as strong positions in servers and tools (Windows, SQL), gaming (Xbox), and online services (Bing, MSN). Windows and Windows Live revenue rose 23% from $15.0 billion in 2009 to $18.5 billion in 2010, while total revenue increased 7% to $62.5 billion during the same period. Wall Street expects Microsoft to earn $2.58 per share in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011 (9x P/E), with $2.77 (9x) and $2.99 (8x) in each of the next two years, respectively. There is quite a bit of value "under the hood" at Microsoft, as the company has a large net cash position and as losses in online services partly mask the true earnings power of Microsoft's core business. For more on Microsoft, read our recent article here.

Nokia (NYSE:NOK) is trading at $6.30 per share; +87%/-2% to reach 52-week high/low. MV is $23 billion, EV is $13 billion. Nokia provides mobile phones, Navteq digital map info, and network infrastructure via the 50%-owned JV Nokia Siemens Networks. Nokia has been the world's largest maker of mobile phones, despite market share losses to Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android. The company's mobile device volume shipments increased 5% from 432 million in 2009 to 453 million in 2010, while revenue increased 4% during the same period. Analysts expect Nokia to earn $0.33 per share in 2011 (19x P/E), with $0.44 (14x) and $0.66 (10x) in each of the next two years, respectively. The company has $10 billion of net cash and $10 billion of tangible book value. Adjusting for net cash would bring the estimated P/E ratio down to 13x for 2011, 9x for 2012 and 6x for 2013. A big caveat regarding this calculation is that net cash may come down over the next twelve months as Nokia transitions from Symbian to the Microsoft OS for mobile phones. The transition has accelerated market share losses and is a risky attempt by Nokia to rejoin the Apple/Android horserace. For more on Nokia, read our recent article here.

Research In Motion (RIMM) is trading at $37 per share; +93%/-1% to reach 52-week high/low. MV is $19 billion, EV is $17 billion. RIM is best known for the BlackBerry family of wireless devices, pioneers of mobile email, with a strong presence among large enterprise customers that place a premium on data security. The number of BlackBerry devices sold rose 43% from 37 million in 2010 to 52 million in 2011, while revenue rose 33% during the same period. Analysts expect RIM to earn $6.31 per share in the fiscal year ending February 2, 2012 (6x P/E) and $6.67 in 2013 (5x). These estimates have been coming down quickly in anticipation of the company's earnings call today, June 16th. As such, caution is warranted with regard to relying on published consensus EPS estimates. Investors clearly see Apple and Android taking share from RIM over time. But the question is whether the challengers can displace RIM in the large and highly profitable enterprise accounts.

Disclosure: I am long CSCO, MSFT, NOK, HPQ, RIMM.

Source: These 8 Large-Cap Tech Stocks Look Really Cheap