Brian.oco 0 Posting Whiz

Everybody's touting Intel as being the trigger for a run-up in chip stocks late last week, although I like the numbers that National Semiconductor is showing.

What's beyond debate, however, is that the semiconductor market is on the rebound amid signs that the sector's long decline may finally be over. The Nasdaq Index was up 46 points on Friday on the news that Intel come out and said that it would be in line with analyst's forecasts, albeit at the lower end. Meanwhile, National Semiconductor saw its stock rise 5% on Friday after besting analysts' expectations for its last quarter. The company made quite a statement on Wall Street, besting the street's predictions by 20% for the quarter - pretty strong stuff.

This bout of good news had analysts positively preening about the suddenly resurgent chip sector, especially with Intel's estimates. ''What Wall Street looks to is to discount and anticipate the future, and so you'd much rather have a situation where a company says we're not quite where we want to be now but we're upbeat in terms of where we're going,'' David G. Dietze, president and chief investment officer of Point View Financial Services Inc. in Summit, N.J., told the New York Times on Saturday.

We'll know more about Intel's forecast later this week but the tea leaves coming from National Semiconductor paint a better picture for microchip makers. The 5% run-up on Friday lifted the stock to a six-month high in the latest leg of a recovery that mounted the 200-day moving average earlier in the week. Analysts aren't getting too crazy over National Semiconductor but a sustained run to $22 or $23 doesn't seem out of the question, analysts say. I'd say $25 might be in the picture, too, if only because investors are starved for some good news in the chip market and will invest emotionally for a while and boost the stock.

Analysts say that National Semicoductor’s improved bookings were in part a result of increased orders and strong sales in wireless handsets and personal mobile devices. No doubt that is a good sign for everyone linked to the chip sector - from chip suppliers to handset makers, companies like QCOM, SWKS and CAMD.

So, a good week for chips even as the rest of the market tanked. But enough to give us all hope on semiconductors.