Updated from 10:23 a.m. EST

The economic slowdown may have forced chipmakers and semiconductor firms to

lower

their forecasts, although there are plenty of opportunities in this space for shrewd investors.

With tech spending slowing dramatically, companies that manufacture silicon components for computers and cell phones are taking a serious hit.

Broadcom

(BRCM)

, for example, lowered its fourth-quarter revenue guidance late Monday, citing order cancellations and delays. Just a few hours earlier,

Texas Instruments

(TXN) - Get Report

reduced

its sales and earnings projections for the fourth quarter, reflecting weakening chip demand from cell-phone manufacturers.

National Semiconductor

(NSM)

is also feeling the recession, reporting late Monday that

its sales fell 9%

in the second quarter and predicting a 30% drop in third-quarter revenue.

Altera

(ALTR) - Get Report

is another semiconductor firm following this trend, significantly lowering its fourth-quarter revenue guidance Monday.

Chip giants such as

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

and

Advanced Micro Devices

(AMD) - Get Report

are also wrestling with a

tough

spending climate. Intel, for example, recently slashed its fourth-quarter

sales forecast

, citing

weaker-than-expected demand for PCs

. AMD recently said that it expects revenue from continuing operations to be

down 25%

from the third quarter.

With a bounce-back in chip sales

not expected until 2010

investors could be forgiven for thinking that the immediate outlook for chip and semiconductor manufacturers is bleak, although there are apparently some bright spots amidst the gloom.

Analyst firm

Citgroup Global Markets

, for example, recently reiterated its recommendations on Intel, Altera and

Qualcomm

(QCOM) - Get Report

and upgraded

Nvidia

(NVDA) - Get Report

,

STMicroelectronics

(STM) - Get Report

and

Integrated Device Technology

(IDTI) - Get Report

to a 'Buy' rating.

"Our underlying investment message is that clients now focus on 'Buying the dips, not selling the rallies,' wrote Glen Yeung, a Citigroup analyst, in a research note released Monday.

Yeung explained that many semiconductor stocks will probably bounce back from the recession earlier than other tech firms, much as they did after the economic downturn of the early '90s.

"Using the 1990-91 cycle as a guide, we believe semiconductor stocks will outperform the market in the next 12 months," wrote Yeung, in another recent note. "Current valuations are near 1990 troughs -- we ultimately conclude that now is the appropriate time to invest."

Additionally, Yeung pointed out that chip companies' estimates for 2009 have typically been more conservative than those in the rest of the tech sector, as well as the broader stock market. "This makes chip stocks relatively more 'investable' given the conservatism," he wrote.

Chip giant Intel has also been busy forging alliances and developing new technologies in the last few weeks that could open the door to new revenue streams. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company says it's made a breakthrough in building low-cost computer components that can transfer data at high speed.

By using a silicon-based technology dubbed the Avalanche Photodetector (APD), Intel is touting the ability to quickly transfer optical data among computers and other electronic devices. The company says the technology, which was partially funded by the

Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency

, offers a cheaper alternative to more traditional optical materials such as indium phosphide.

Intel also has teamed up with

Hitachi

( HIT) to jointly develop

solid-state drives

for servers, workstations and storage systems.

At least one technology analyst thinks that this could be a shrewd move for the chip company.

"Intel will profit from this relationship by using Hitachi as its sales arm for its NAND and controller technology in addition to any royalty payments that Hitachi may pay to them," wrote Jim Handy, an analyst at technology research firm

Current Analysis

, in a recent note.

In the broader semiconductor market, there also could be opportunities for investors in Broadcom, which lowered its guidance Monday.

In a note released Tuesday,

Jefferies & Co.

analyst Adam Benjamin admitted that Broadcom's decision to lower its estimate by as much as 19% was much worse than expected but described the company as a "core holding."

Broadcom, he explained, is beginning to show earnings leverage, and profitability is just around the corner.

"

Broadcom is well positioned for a return to revenue growth and profitability in late 2009 or early 2010, given its comprehensive communications and integrated connectivity portfolio, as well as potential opportunities with cellular baseband," he wrote.

Despite a broader downturn in tech stocks which saw the Nasdaq slip 0.8% Tuesday, Broadcom shares ended that session up $1.08, or 7%, at $16.54 and were up 59 cents at $17.13 Wednesday afternoon.

Intel's stock was up 9 cents, or 0.63%, at $14.39, Wednesday afternoon.