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9. Akamai Technologies ( AKAM) designs software that accelerates the delivery of content over the Internet. In addition to its core cloud offering, Edge Platform, Akamai builds custom services for businesses. It runs an HD streaming network. Its mobile-focused subsidiary, Velocitude, was purchased in June.

Akamai operates a global network of servers that help large online shopping retailers. The rising trend in online shopping, as evidenced this holiday season by a 15% increase in sales, bodes well for that segment. Since 2007, Akamai has increased revenue 19% annually, on average, and boosted earnings per share 21% a year. Akamai is in an outstanding position to grow in 2011, given that it holds $608 million of cash and has only $59 million of debt. Revenue for the third quarter grew by 23% to $253.6 million, up 3% from the second quarter.

Outlook: Akamai's stock is up 89% this year, but is off 5% over the past three months. Its forward price-to-earnings ratio is a high, 29.2, double that of the S&P 500. Morningstar analyst Imari Love writes that "Akamai is an ideal buyout candidate for a firm that wants to improve its infrastructure relationship with the premier content delivery provider."

Of the analysts that follow the company, five rate it "buy," two "outperform" and 17 "hold." T. Rowe Price owns 8.2% of its shares.


8. Zions Bancorp ( ZION) is a financial holding company operating eight different banks. Through its 500 branches, it provides banking services for small and medium-sized businesses and individuals. Most of its $55 billion assets are in the economically hard-hit states of Utah, California, Texas, Arizona and Nevada.

Zions has about 50% of its $40 billion loan book in commercial lending operations, 30% in commercial real estate, and 20% in consumer loans. It lost $80 million, or 47 cents a share in the third quarter, but that's an improvement from the $135 million loss in the second quarter.

Outlook: Regional-bank stocks have been boosted in recent weeks by merger speculation and Zions is no exception, gaining 26% in the past month. Analysts are cautious about its prospects. Seven have it rated "strong buy," six "buy," 18 "hold," three "underperform" and one "sell," according to First Call/Thomson Financial. Their mean price target is $24.59.

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