To-day we have naming of parts. Yesterday,
We had daily cleaning. And to-morrow morning,
We shall have what to do after firing. But to-day,
To-day we have naming of parts.
-- From "Naming of Parts," by Henry Reed, 1942

Semiconductor makers -- and really, any manufacturing industry -- pay lots of attention to their book-to-bill ratios. Simply put, when that metric climbs above 1.0, the company gets incoming orders faster than it can make, ship, and bill for them. Orders outweighing shipments is generally a sign of strong product demand.

For Texas Instruments (NYSE: TXN), a high book-to-bill ratio is a mixed blessing right now. First-quarter sales jumped 54% year-over-year to $3.2 billion while order bookings used a trampoline to reach 66% growth at $3.6 billion. That all-important ratio now stands at 1.14, which is a tad too good.

Smartphones and other mobile devices have become a major driver of TI's business. In order to keep up with the rampant order inflow from Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL), Motorola (NYSE: MOT), Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM), and others, TI has been building out its famously lean manufacturing capacity during the downturn. "Production output is at an all-time high," says the company -- and continuing to increase, with another chip-making facility coming online before the end of the year.

That's where TI's asset-light strategy becomes a strength that sets TI apart from fabless chip designers like QUALCOMM (Nasdaq: QCOM) and Broadcom (Nasdaq: BRCM), who outsource all of their manufacturing to third-party foundries in the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (NYSE: TSM) mold. Smartphone demand has created serious manufacturing shortages across the industry as the foundries struggle to fill orders from a lynch mob of impatient chip-design firms. TI is a part of that mob, but can also crank up its own manufacturing efforts a bit when the need arises.

So times are good in Texas. Sales exceeded every reasonable expectation and $0.52 of earnings per share landed at the high end of management guidance. And judging from that bloated book-to-bill metric, the train should keep a-rolling for several quarters.

Would you buy Texas Instruments today, or can you come up with any better ways to ride the smartphone wave? Discuss in the comments below.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares in Taiwan Semi, but he holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. Japonica glistens like coral in all of the neighboring gardens, and to-day we have National Poetry Month. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.