It's hard to say whether Texas Instruments (NYSE:TXN) is in deep trouble right now or serving up a great growth opportunity. We don't like uncertainty, now, do we, Mr. Market? Let's keep our hands off of this stock for a bit -- while value investors swarm over it like ants on a dropped lollipop.

TI just reported unimpressive second-quarter results. Earnings came in at $0.44 per share, two cents below the midpoint of management guidance and only 5% above the year-ago quarter, on sales that dropped 2% to $3.35 billion. Management blamed the wireless-infrastructure sector for the shortfall, since most of the players in the sector -- except paragon of virtue Nokia (NYSE:NOK) -- ordered far fewer TI chips than expected toward the end of the period.

CEO Rich Templeton managed to put a positive spin on that problem, by saying that a weak economy and "greater confidence in TI's ability to deliver products within short lead times" were behind the drastic change in ordering climate. I don't doubt that the company's famous asset-light manufacturing strategy is improving those lead times, thanks to the quick-turnaround prowess of manufacturing partners such as TTM Technologies (NASDAQ:TTMI) and United Microelectronics (NYSE:UMC), but I do question the incredible coincidence it would take for Motorola (NYSE:MOT), Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC), and Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE:ALU) to decide simultaneously that TI had finally shown its speed-release muscle.

So that's the bad news: The wireless market that stands for nearly a quarter of TI's sales is slowing down again. Now for the good news: If you want to build a next-generation 3G or TD-SCDMA network, you most likely will find the necessary components in Texas, and service providers the world over should get those networks built out over the next couple of years. TI's stalled growth engine should get a nice kick-start from that trend.

All told, Texas Instruments stock is trading near 52-week lows today, thanks to short-term issues masking long-term opportunities. And this company is definitely in a long-term race, having returned an average of around 14% to shareholders over the past 20 years -- a period that includes the popped tech bubble and this year's slide of around 30%. It will be fun watching the price climb back to where it belongs again.