Chip stocks can still make you rich.

A global sales report from the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) shows that semiconductor sales have been on steady rebound for a solid five months now, which is evidence of a robust bounce that looks likely to last. On the other hand, there's still a ways to go: Worldwide chip sales in July 2009 came in at $18.2 billion, which also happens to be 18.2% below results from July 2008. Gosh, I love accidental symmetry.

SIA president George Scalise noted that the industry's steady return to health rests on retail sales of consumer products like cell phones and computer systems. Corporate buyers are still holding back on buying new systems, partly because their replacement cycles are longer and tempered by robust testing before placing any large orders, but also due to fiscal caution.

So, reading the tea leaves here, it looks safe to say that the chip sector is headed in the right direction and looking pretty certain to continue that way. That idea is bolstered by individual reports of strong results from chip giants like Texas Instruments (NYSE:TXN) and Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), as well as from system builder including Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) and gadget slingers such as Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) or Garmin (NASDAQ:GRMN). Look below for links to a few salient reports.

The SIA report also seems to indicate that this could be the right time to buy semiconductor stocks. Yes, today. The sector still has a ways to go before returning to full health. Just look at Micron (NYSE:MU) or AMD (NYSE:AMD) for further proof of that. And investors are already catching on to this idea: Trailing chip sales have fallen about 9% in a year -- while the combined market cap of the whole sector lost only 8%.

In other words, stock prices are already looking stronger than the underlying business results. It's not a big gap -- yet -- but it could be time to buy now or forever hold your peace.

Do you see the semiconductor recovery too, or are you just waiting for the other shoe to drop? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.

Recent chipper chip reports:

Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Dell and Intel are Motley Fool Inside Value picks. Garmin is a Motley Fool Global Gains selection. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares in AMD, but he holds no other 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.