NEW YORK ( InvestorPlace) -- We've seen a technology sector boom in the last 12-18 months, from consumer electronics to corporate IT spending stocks taking off. Tech heavyweight stock picks such as Apple ( AAPL) have been leading the charge, but don't underestimate the ability of small-cap tech stocks to cash in, too.

Of particular interest to investors should be penny stock investments trading for under $5 that focus on semiconductors. Chips and circuits are crucial to every manner of electronic devices, from the iPad in your living room to mega computers in a corporate server room. And one big order can cause semiconductor stocks like these to explode higher almost overnight.

To help you focus on the tech boom through affordable stocks, here are four semiconductor plays that you should consider now:

Axcelis Technologies (ACLS)

Axcelis Technologies ( ACLS) is a designer, manufacturer and servicer of processing equipment used in the production of semiconductors. The company also offers service, support, equipment upgrades and maintenance service to its clients. Over the past 12 months, this penny stock has soared +131%, compared to gains of +20% and +11% for the Nasdaq and Dow Jones, respectively. It is also important to note that in its last income statement, ACLS reported a quarterly revenue growth of +115%. Buy this penny stock as it approaches its 52-week high of $3.77.

Tower Semiconductor (TSEM)

Independent specialty foundry Tower Semiconductor ( TSEM) is involved with the production of semiconductors. Tower also provides design services and technical services for its clients. Since this time last year, TSEM stock has gained +36%, compared to smaller gains by the broader markets. TSEM has also made strides on the earnings front, as experts are projecting EPS of 14 cents this quarter against EPS of -16 cents last year. TSEM is another penny stock worth buying as it closes in on its 52-week high of $1.87.
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  • ChipMOS (IMOS)

    Holding company ChipMOS Technologies ( IMOS) provides a wide range of back-end testing services for semiconductors. Over the past 52 weeks, IMOS is up +121%, and has gained +25% over the past three months. Importantly, in its last income statement, the penny stock reported a quarterly revenue growth of +41% year-over-year. Because of its low price, IMOS offers the potential for large gains in your portfolio. IMOS has a 52-week range of 60 cents to $2.00.
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  • Camtek (CAMT)

    Camtek ( CAMT) is involved with the design, development, manufacture and marketing of automated optical inspection and other related products. Over the past year, CAMT stock is up +57%, compared to smaller gains by the broader markets. This penny stock has also posted impressive gains in the last month and is up +38% in that time. Shareholders are also pleased to see a net profit margin of +8% in Camtek's last income statement. Earnings wise, experts estimate EPS of 7 cents this quarter after CAMT posted EPS of just 2 cents last year. Buy CAMT stock while it trades near its 52-week high of $3.55.

    As of this writing, Louis Navellier did not own a position in any of the stocks named here.

    >To see these stocks in action, visit the 4 Semiconductor Penny Stocks portfolio on Stockpickr.

    One of Wall Street's renowned growth investors, Louis Navellier is the editor of four investing newsletters: Emerging Growth (formerly known as MPT Review), Blue Chip Growth, Quantum Growth and Global Growth. His longest-running publication, Emerging Growth, has a track record of beating the market nearly 3 to 1. Navellier is the author of a BusinessWeek bestseller, "The Little Book That Makes You Rich," and the chairman and founder of Navellier & Associates, Inc.

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