Data security firm VASCO Data Security International (Nasdaq: VDSI) has been trampled pretty hard by the global economy crisis of the last several years. The stock is but a shell of its former glory, including a brief stint in the lower-$40s price range in 2007, and operations haven't done any better.

But the company is finally showing some signs of life again. Fourth-quarter sales inched up 3% year-over-year to $33 million fueling a 38% earnings jump to $0.17 per diluted share. Analysts had been looking for slightly higher revenue but would have settled for just $0.08 in EPS, and revenue guidance for 20% growth in 2011 was in line with estimates.

The strong sales estimate comes from a position of certainty, because Vasco is funneling a high volume of proposals into signed orders. That gives management excellent visibility into coming conquests -- much of what will be booked as revenue in the coming quarters is already jotted down in the order books.

Electronic signatures and Internet identity management may sound like boring businesses, but they're becoming an important part of everyday life for consumers and corporations alike. When was the last time you made it through an entire week without seeing headlines about data theft or large-scale hacking attacks, with or without Julian Assange's involvement? Exactly.

That's why Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) is buying security firm McAfee (NYSE: MFE) -- as misguided as that big-ticket move is when coming from a chip specialist -- and why smaller players Fortinet (Nasdaq: FTNT) and SourceFire (Nasdaq: FIRE) always seem to have buyout rumors swirling around them. And that's exactly where Vasco makes a living, making it a potential acquisition target as well.

Maybe that's why our Stock Advisor team remained patient with Vasco's foibles through the dark days of European misery -- or perhaps they simply saw an end to the banking problems.

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