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After being locked for more than six months at a less-than-impressive two-star rank, enough top-performing CAPS members have turned bullish on National Semiconductor (NYSE: NSM) recently to upgrade it to a more palatable three stars. A total of 286 members have given their opinion on the chipmaker, with plenty of analysis and commentary to explain their recent optimism.

Many investors think the worst is over for tech companies. They believe National Semiconductor stands on the verge of a new growth phase, ready to benefit from increasing demand in coming years. The Semiconductor Industry Association recently reported that December's global semiconductor sales grew 29% year over year, with more growth expected this year. The SIA foresees increased business not only for chips in wireless devices from Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL), Palm (Nasdaq: PALM), and Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM), but also in other growth markets such cars and notebooks. That continuing strength should resurrect the top lines of companies such as National Semiconductor, Texas Instruments (NYSE: TXN), and Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD).

Competitors such as Linear Technology, Maxim Integrated Products (Nasdaq: MXIM), and Analog Devices have issued positive outlooks recently, and many CAPS members anticipate that National Semiconductor will follow suit. The company is sitting on a lot of excess capacity at this point. That gives it the ability to double its business without shelling out money for capital expenditures, and positions it well in the event of an upturn. Given National Semiconductor's growing gross margins and its in-house manufacturing, investors envision more dollars flowing to the bottom line.

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