Texas Instruments Just Called a Market Bottom

Shares of chip (silicon, not potato) giant Texas Instruments (NYS: TXN) soared Monday night as the company beat the Street in the first quarter. Non-GAAP earnings of $0.32 per share provided a 10% upside to analyst estimates while sales landed at $3.1 billion -- exactly where your average analyst wanted them.

But the boost didn't last long. TI gave the entire jump back on Tuesday as analyst comments on the quarter started pouring in. It's a pretty unanimous chorus of "hold" ratings, except the mavericks of Nomura sticking to their "sell" opinion. But even Nomura stayed close to the pack with a $30 price target -- a 7% difference between current and targeted prices doesn't exactly call for a short-sale.

Yes sir, we can waffle
So the consensus is clear: Neither a leader nor a follower be. TI is not valued for perfection but to perfection here. Only, I don't think that's quite right.

You see, TI CEO Rich Templeton said that "our business cycle bottomed in the first quarter, and early signs of growth began to emerge." Orders are up and the backlog is growing; the all-important book-to-bill ratio bounced back from 0.84 last quarter to 1.04 this time. In the manufacturing-centric semiconductor industry, anything over 1.0 means that the company is receiving orders faster than they can be filled. That's a great sign for future revenue collections.

Keep in mind that TI likes to hand out conservative guidance. Management even issues mid-quarter guidance updates to keep investors abreast of upcoming results -- and TI crushed the latest update by a good margin. It's not the kind of company that would blow rose-colored smoke in your eyes. When these guys say that there's a turnaround coming, I tend to believe them.

Time for a turnaround?
In other words, the current situation is a snapshot at the bottom of a plunge and not a picture of how bad things are staying for the foreseeable future.

Moreover, TI has a massive customer base where no customer accounts for more than "a mid-single-digit percentage" of sales. That's the polar opposite of a Cirrus Logic (NAS: CRUS) or OmniVision Technologies (NAS: OVTI) , whose fortunes (and share prices) catch a cold whenever Apple (NAS: AAPL) sneezes. TI ships several chips to Apple, but would hardly notice the missing sales if the next iPhone used a competing touchscreen controller in place of the incumbent TI solution.

That makes TI an unusually reliable barometer for the entire technology market and, by extension, consumer appetites in general. When times are good in Texas, they're about to get better across the country too. If TI's signals are correct -- and I believe that they are -- high-quality stocks you buy today should skyrocket when the Presidential election rolls around. I have a CAPScall saying that Texas Instruments will be one of them.

At the time this article was published Fool contributorAnders Bylundowns shares of and a written strangle on OmniVision but holds no other position in any of the companies mentioned. Check outAnders' holdings and bio, or follow him onTwitterandGoogle+.The Motley Fool owns shares of Cirrus Logic and Apple.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Apple.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinion, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days.

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