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Internet & Technology Section Highlights Fast-Growing Firms

Many investors now know all about Alexion Pharmaceuticals (ALXN) and Salesforce.com (CRM). But how many knew much about them a few years back, before they started their big runs

Those who read IBD's Internet & Technology section would have gotten an early introduction. I&T focuses on trends in computing, software, the Internet and other high-tech fields. It identifies what's driving the trends and the companies that stand to benefit.

"If tech stocks are leading the market, you want to read this section to be on top of the discussions," wrote IBD Chairman and founder William J. O'Neil in ".

Salesforce.com develops software to help companies manage customer accounts, track sales leads and evaluate marketing campaigns. It was a pioneer in creating on-demand software that users could access through the Web.

The cloud-based software allows companies to cut costs by eliminating the need to buy or license software up front while also reducing the need for hardware to run it.

The company was featured in the I&T section a number of times leading up to its from a cup-with-handle base on April 6, 2010, including a Q&A with CEO Marc Benioff Jan. 13.

The stock went on to double on its way to a peak on Dec. 10.

Salesforce's robust sales and profit growth and compelling story attracted the attention of IBD editors and reporters. Profit growth in the three quarters leading up to Salesforce's breakout was rising at a triple-digit pace. ranged from 20% to 23% in the three quarters before the breakout.

The stock has gone sideways since its big run, as earnings and sales increases subsided.

Some biotechnology and solar energy companies also are covered in the I&T section.

Alexion Pharmaceuticals (ALXN) appeared before it broke out on July 13, 2011. that day was only 19% above average, but picked up in subsequent sessions.

Like Salesforce.com, Alexion satisfied many of the criteria required by IBD's investing system, including strong profit and sales growth and new or unique products that create new markets or are superior to others. Alexion also satisfied the "L" in CAN SLIM, which stands for market leadership — it was a top stock in the highly rated biotech at the time.

Alexion's competitive advantage came from its lone drug, Soliris, which was the only FDA-approved drug to treat an ultra-rare blood disorder called paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria.

Profit and sales growth in the three quarters leading up to Alexion's breakout topped 40% in each quarter. Furthermore, the stock's Relative Strength line was hitting as the stock cleared the .

From there, Alexion more than doubled to a high on Oct. 5, 2012.

Keep in mind that not all stocks appearing in the I&T section will go on to become big winners. They're perhaps best viewed as good watch-list candidates.

Be sure to research any company you read about carefully before investing.

Also, some of the section's coverage is devoted to major tech companies that no longer have great growth but are important to the technology sector, such as Microsoft (MSFT) and Intel (INTC).