OmniVision Technologies (NASDAQ:OVTI) shares leapt 4% yesterday, far outpacing the broader market's gains. And maybe that jump was justified. Earnings news is due out tomorrow morning, and this year has so far been very good to shareholders. The maker of CameraChips beat earnings estimates three quarters in a row, and investors expect it to close out fiscal 2008 with a bang.

We'll have time aplenty to dissect the quarter's numbers after OmniVision reports. But before we begin obsessing over its short-term progress, let's use these last few hours to review what investors think about it as a long-term investment. Our tool in this endeavor is Motley Fool CAPS, where we poll more than 105,000 investors for their views on more than 5,600 companies, OmniVision among them. Here's what Fools have to say about the company and its long-term prospects.

Up or down?
Nearly 600 investors have submitted ratings on OmniVision. The verdict: They see profits.

Roughly 94% of CAPS players who registered a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down expect the company to outperform the market, good enough to earn OmniVision four stars on CAPS (out of five possible). Then again, optimism runs rampant in this sector:

Semiconductor -- Integrated Circuits Group

CAPS Rating

Taiwan Semiconductor (NYSE:TSM)






Marvell Technology (NASDAQ:MRVL)




Wall Street vs. Main Street
Wall Street's right there with Main Street on this one. OmniVision gets positive ratings from the half-dozen analysts who've taken affirmative buy/sell positions on the stock. (Little wonder. Despite struggling in Q1 2008, OmniVision has beaten the S&P 500 by more than 17 points this past year.)

Bull pitch
Writing during the dark days preceding the latest run-up, CAPS All-Star foolsfool11 exclaimed:

Man this stock has been absolutely pounded. Declining ASPs (aka price erosion), serious local competition and comp from giant Samsung and Micron pose a threat. But, look at the technology and the growing market. You have a bigger pie and possibly the leader in technology. P/E is under 10 at FY09 consensus earnings. One more minor detail is cash makes up more than 50% of its market cap (and no debt). I like this stock at this price. Buy now until the uncertainty clears and you miss the boat....

Prescient words, and foolsfool11 has been proven right, with this "outperform" rating topping the market by more than 30 points since. But have we now "missed the boat?"

Bear pitch
Perhaps not. Despite the stock's remarkable revival, not a single Fool has penned a pitch criticizing OmniVision since its stock perked back up. (Perhaps you'd like to be the first?) But the company has attracted flames in the past. Back in 2006, for example, gwood2006 pondered: 

Where's the differentiating technology that will command added margins? OVTI is in a commodity business and their management behaves like they own the market. Bad news.

Yet ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) doesn't seem to have much trouble earning a profit selling a commodity. Even more relevant, high-tech superstar Nokia (NYSE:NOK) gets accused of making a "commodity product" every other Tuesday, yet it's still earning 14% profit margins on its cell phones.

"Commodity" is not a four-letter word. Thanks to strong sales growth and reasonable profit margins, OmniVision today boasts a trailing P/E ratio of just 17. To me, that looks like a reasonable price to pay for a company that most analysts believe will grow at 16% per year going forward.

Who said that?
To learn more about the wise Motley Fool CAPS Fools who penned these words, to examine their records (to see whether they know whereof they speak), and to explore the plethora of additional financial data we've put together on the company, just click here

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