I see a bad moon arising.
I see trouble on the way.
I see earthquakes and lightnin'.
I see bad times today.
-- "Bad Moon Rising," by Creedence Clearwater Revival

You just can't beat Mother Nature. Texas Instruments (NYSE: TXN) learned that lesson the hard way this quarter, as the earthquake and tsunami in Japan took its toll on the chip giant.

TI's shares have been lagging the S&P 500 since that tragic event, and this week's earnings report shows that it was for good reason. Despite strong orders, the Texans delivered weak first-quarter sales because of disrupted operations at two chip factories in the disaster-stricken area.

Messed-up production lines and the costs associated with fixing them put an unexpected load on the bottom line. All told, TI saw both sales and earnings rise by 6% year-over-year, which was somewhat less than what the Street had expected.

The book-to-bill ratio crept up above the crucial 1.0 benchmark as unfilled orders started piling up. That's typically a good thing, showing strong demand and giving investors a good handle on how future revenues will shape up. It's different this time because the rising ratio stems from artificially lowered production capacity more than from stronger orders. TI is taking all of this into account for future planning and thus lowered its second-quarter revenue outlook.

In the longer term, TI will eventually repair its Japanese operations and resume filling orders as before. Moreover, the acquisition of National Semiconductor (NYSE: NSM) should pay off handsomely. CFO Kevin March points out that TI has a sales force 10 times the size of National's, and that army is already trained to sell the kind of products National is making. In short: "It's pretty exciting. Our incremental cost to accelerate that growth was exactly 0, because we already have a sales force in place." It's the quintessential tuck-in acquisition, assuming that the deal is approved by shareholders and regulators.

TI is facing strong competition in certain segments, including challenges to its OMAP mobile processor line chiefly from Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM), NVIDIA (Nasdaq: NVDA), and Samsung, but the business model is big enough and balanced enough to take a licking and keep on ticking. With an eye to further acquisitions to bolster sales growth, TI remains a titan of the chip industry -- and an attractively valued one at that.

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