I think this would be a great time to buy Nam Tai (NYSE:NTE).

The electronics manufacturing specialist reported earnings of historically crummy proportions: $0.08 of non-GAAP earnings per share on sales of $169 million are a swift step off a steep cliff from the $0.25 per share and $187 million seen a year earlier. That excludes $17.3 million or $0.39 per share of goodwill impairment charges. Oh, and management put a stop to that juicy dividend which provided for a nice yield last year. The share price took a 16% plunge on the news during yesterday’s trading.

All of that misery, and I still like Nam Tai? Oh, yeah. And here's why.

Yes, this was a bad quarter. Nam Tai is simply not used to this brand of underperformance. The company reported a small operating loss in the month of December, and felt compelled to point that out in the earnings report. It was "a rare loss in any monthly, quarterly or annual period since 1989, in span of 20 years," and provided "dramatic evidence of the prevailing global economic environment."

Do you notice a sense of entitlement here? A cocky strut with a large chip on the shoulder? A certain ... je ne sais quoi? I do. And I can see why, too.

An operating history like that gives you the right to strut your stuff. Diving into the company’s financial statements to confirm that bold claim, I could only find two quarterly operating losses since 1995, both falling in 2001 when the dot-com bubble popped. A year later, that episode was nothing but a fading memory. When Nam Tai falls off the horse of profitability, it gets right back up again.

If you had bought Nam Tai shares in the summer of 2001 when Mr. Market gave the company the cold shoulder and held them for four years, you'd end up with five times the original investment. That return rivals Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) at the simultaneous start of the iPod craze.

This is not a sector effect, as direct competitors Flextronics (NASDAQ:FLEX) and Jabil Circuit (NYSE:JBL) never even came close to Nam Tai's share gains during those years Nor was it a general tech-stock rebound -- both Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) and Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO) saw their shares lose value over the same period. Nope, Nam Tai's gains were Nam Tai's own, but competitive pressures led to margin declines that put the brakes on the stocks upward momentum.

However the shares have now sunk too low, and may stay there until the global recession draws to a close. But Nam Tai looks fairly safe at its current valuation; its market capitalization is now well below cash on hand and the firm holds little debt.  So look out, Nam Tai will come roaring back in the end, reinstating dividends and regaining investor confidence. The operating record will once again speak for itself.

Further Foolishness:

Nam Tai Electronics is a Motley Fool Global Gains pick. Intel is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. The Fool owns shares of Intel. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. You can check out Anders' holdings or a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.