Ahhh, the technology turnaround. Few things can frustrate investors, or try their patience, like tech companies trying to get back on the right track. There are seemingly always fits and starts, and it can be hard to watch your stock going nowhere while other stocks are moving up. Of course, sometimes it works out, and you get a double in less than one year's time.

At semiconductor player NationalSemiconductor (NYSE:NSM), it looks to be a bit of both: The stock has recovered quite well, and the business seems to be coming along, too. For the company's fiscal first quarter, reported revenue was down 10% from the prior-year level. Likewise, operating and net income were lower, as a slight improvement in gross margins couldn't outweigh the quarter's lower sales and fairly steady operating expenses.

On a more positive note, bookings and cash flow performance were pretty solid. Bookings rose 18% sequentially, and so-called commodity products made up only about 10% of the total. Power management continues to be a growing part of the business, and management seems optimistic that this higher-margin business will continue to increase nicely. Turning to cash flow, performance was solid for this quarter, though capital expenditures will likely rise in the next quarter.

So what to make of the stock? Well, even though it's in a cyclical business, it still has maintained a double-digit return on assets, very respectable free cash flow generation, and equally impressive margins. Yet while the company's financial ratios compare favorably to the likes of Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), Maxim (NASDAQ:MXIM), and Texas Instruments (NYSE:TXN), the valuations don't match up. I'm not suggesting that National Semi should trade on par with Intel or Maxim, but I think the stock should trade closer to those companies than the likes of Analog Devices (NYSE:ADI).

Accordingly, the stock seems a bit underappreciated on a relative analysis, even though it looks reasonably priced on an absolute basis. What's more, the company should now be past its difficult year-over-year comparisons; it should soon be reporting annual growth in revenues and profits. Investors who've been patient this long may still have plenty of reasons to keep hanging on.

Semirelated Foolishness:

Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).