What do you do when you're digging the music but no one wants to dance with you? The Texas two-step is a good start. With its stock trading at half of where it was just five years ago, Texas Instruments (NYSE:TXN) took to the two steps most companies with healthy balance sheets resort to in times like this. It is hiking its dividend. It is kicking off a massive $1 billion share buyback.

It may sound counterproductive at first. Why dig deep into one's corporate coffers to send more money to its investors and repurchase its shares at a time when investing in its future growth would be better. However, with nearly $4 billion in cash and marketable securities, it's not as if the chipmaker will be hurting for money after the deeds are done.

Yes, semiconductor stocks are cyclical beasts, and cash-rich players like TI and Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) are well served in saving for the inevitable rainy days. Earlier this month TI put up a mixed bag of results. The warning that a sequential dip in revenues was on the way was a break from upbeat results over the pastfew quarters.

Yet the fact that the stock is trading closer to its 52-week low than its recent highs makes the share buyback a good move. While using up that money means that the company will miss the interest it was earning on its idle cash, swallowing its own stock can still help improve the bottom line on a per-share basis by lowering the number of shares outstanding.

Sure, it wouldn't hurt if some of its largest customers like Nokia (NYSE:NOK) got back on their feet sooner rather than later, but TI can't control that. What it can control is its purse strings. That's why it is using up its spare change to fill up the dance card of the one dancer it knows will always be there for TI -- itself.

Can you think of better uses for TI's idle cash? Do cyclical companies really need that kind of money for a safety net? All this and more in the Texas Instruments discussion board.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz thinks that if ET would be calling home these days, then TI's chips would somehow play a part. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story.