Say what you will about OmniVisionTechnologies (NASDAQ:OVTI), but this is not a boring stock. It dropped below $12 on worries about margins, competition, and possibly management's credibility. But the stock has rebounded sharply since fall 2005, as investors' attention turned to the expected improvements in revenue growth and the possibilities of more stable margins. A modest reduction in guidance drove the stock back down today, falling as much as 11% in early trading, but I believe there are signs of progress afoot.

Revenue was up 35% this quarter, and gross margins improved sequentially while barely falling from the year-ago level. The quarter wasn't entirely positive, though; operating margin fell slightly.

I'm interested to see what OmniVision's new mid-year product introductions will ultimately mean for revenues and margins. The company, which manufactures single-chip solutions for capturing pictures and video in cellphones and other portable devices, has been first to market with some two-megapixel sensor products.

OmniVision also expects to begin shipping wavefront coding modules around midyear. Wavefront coding compensates for the shape of a lens, allowing for sharp focus without the mechanical parts involved in traditional autofocus systems. The resulting systems are smaller, cheaper, and less complex, and I know that companies like Nokia (NYSE:NOK) have long expressed their interest in such technology.

The risk, as always, is that competition will minimize the impact (or price potential) of OmniVision's new products. I know others like Samsung, Toshiba, and Micron (NYSE:MU) are or will be working hard to get their own patentable technology for this market. It'll be interesting to see how it all shakes out.

I've long been a skeptic about this company, but I feel like it's making progress. Management seems slightly more forthcoming with relevant details and information, and aside from the guidance for the next quarter, margins seem more stable. The more pressing issue for me now is price; to be fair, very few semiconductor stocks look like real bargains today.

I'm personally more interested in OmniVision's manufacturing partner TaiwanSemiconductor (NYSE:TSM) as an investment idea, but Fools might still want to keep an eye on how OmniVision's stock reacts today. This is still a tough sector with questionable long-term fundamentals, but I'm cautiously optimistic that OmniVision is in better shape today than in the recent past.

For more Foolish thoughts on the chips:

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