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5 Lesser-Known Tech Stock Gems

These stocks don't make big headlines, but they could make you a pretty penny nonetheless

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Aspen Technology

Aspen Technology NASDAQ:AZPNAspen Technology’s (AZPN) software helps companies manage the complex systems of process industries like energy, chemicals and construction. Its offerings can help companies improve their supply chain management, manufacturing operations and engineering for dealing with feedstocks.

This is no easy field. A small change in a chemical process can have a significant impact on efficiency and costs — for better or worse — and any tinkering always has to be made in compliance with myriad complex regulations.

But Aspen has proven its ability, earning 1,500 customers Exxon Mobil (XOM), Halliburton (HAL) and DuPont (DD), and prompting investors to gin up AZPN shares more than 600% in the past decade.

That said, several important trends are helping to push Aspen, too, including the growth in natural gas-processing plants in North America and the growth of emerging markets, which have become booming sources of demand.

Overall, the growth rates are robust. In the engineering space, the estimate is for 10% growth through 2015; that figure is 12% for energy, chemicals and pharma.

Best of all, AZPN’s financials are solid. Revenues have surged ahead 46% to $243 million in the past two years, and the company estimates that free cash flow will hit $130 million in FY13, up from $59 million a couple years ago.

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