Many investors have been waiting for a while now for some sort of all-clear signal from the semiconductor and semiconductor equipment industries. While there have been signs of life here and there, ASML Holding's (NASDAQ:ASML) second-quarter report suggests that we aren't back to boom times just yet.

First the good news. ASML, a maker of systems that manufacture complex integrated circuits, outperformed on both the top and bottom line relative to analyst expectations. Revenue climbed 24% to about $934 million and net profit climbed 72% from the year-ago period. As those numbers would suggest, margins also improved on a year-over-year basis.

For the quarter, ASML shipped 51 systems (44 new, seven refurbished) -- below both the year-ago and sequential levels. On a more positive note, average selling prices were quite strong on both an annual and sequential basis.

Now for the not-so-good news. Bookings for the second quarter were pretty pathetic -- 24 in total -- the lowest they've been in a while. Likewise, the current backlog stands at only 80 systems with a sales value of about $1.2 billion.

ASML management said that it expects to ship 38 systems in the next quarter. If it hits its ASP target, that would suggest revenue of about $550 million or so at present exchange rates.

Perhaps not surprising, management indicated that it expects orders to pick up in the back half of the year. That's the big question for the whole space -- will the second half of the year pick up? While many semiconductor companies have worked off the inventory gluts that choked the sector, nobody seems overly aggressive with their projections of future cap-ex spending just yet.

Taking a casual look at the sector, it seems as though valuations have in many cases gotten a bit ahead of reality. That said, unless the global economy really skids in the next six to nine months, we've probably seen the worst of this cycle.

Investors looking to buy ahead of the confirmation of a turn might want to check out ASML today, or perhaps a more diversified player like Applied Materials (NASDAQ:AMAT) or KLA Tencor (NASDAQ:KLAC). After all, it's tough to imagine a recovery in semiconductor equipment without Applied Materials going along for the ride.

Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).