Sometimes I use National Semiconductor (NYSE:NSM) as a weather vane for the broader semiconductor market, teeing up my expectations for the coming earnings season on top of this lone report in the dead of March, June, September, or December. This time, it's just not telling me much. Is this just a lull in the winds of change -- or the eye of a hurricane?

National's workaday first quarter saw $466 million in sales and $0.33 of earnings per share. It's within shouting distance of its year-ago totals of $472 million and $0.30 per share, respectively, and just below the midpoint of management guidance. The highlight of this show was a company-record 66% gross margin, driven mostly by strong sales of high-end, high-margin analog chips.

That better product mix is National's own improvement, not a sector effect. Nice job, National, and let's hope that you can hitch that wide-margin wagon to a stronger revenue horse sometime soon. But as a market barometer, this report told me nothing.

So we'll just have to buckle up for, gosh, six weeks before Linear Technologies (NASDAQ:LLTC) sheds some more light on the semiconductor sector, followed by Texas Instruments (NYSE:TXN) a couple of days later. OK, TI gives us a mid-quarter update next week, but those reports rarely go beyond updated sales and earnings expectations. The really meaty stuff will just have to wait.

In the meantime, perhaps this stillwater moment in market history would be the best time to pick up a few chipmaker stocks for yourself. These stocks often magnify the swings of the general stock market, and some look severely undervalued at the moment. The S&P 500 has lost around 15% in the last twelve months, but big and well-managed semiconductor makers like Texas Instruments, Analog Devices (NYSE:ADI), National, and Broadcom (NASDAQ:BRCM) are sitting on 25% to 35% drops. That's when you take your best swing at a home-run buy.

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Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. You can check out Anders' holdings if you like, and Foolish disclosure is all that and a bag of chips.