Internap Network Services (Nasdaq: INAP) doesn't get a lot of love around here. I mean, who likes an unprofitable vendor of data-center and network services that doesn't know how to make a profit when cash machines Akamai Technologies (Nasdaq: AKAM) and Rackspace Hosting (NYSE: RAX) are playing in the same space?

That bias might change soon enough. You see, Internap is getting into a habit of reporting positive operating profits. The stock is cheap when compared with many of Internap's high-flying rivals, mostly thanks to that tendency to swim in red ink. That sets Internap's stock up for a superball bounce if the company can convince investors that the profits are here to stay.

For the third time in four quarters, Internap reported a small but definitely positive operating profit in its fourth quarter. The GAAP net loss was only $0.01 per share.

Another positive sign is the way Internap turned a $0.4 million net loss into $11.4 million of operating cash flow. Granted, all the cash was plowed right back into capital expenses to keep Internap's networks and data centers up to speed, and free cash flow was a negative $7.6 million this quarter. But you gotta spend money to make money. Cloud services and high-quality networks take a lot of hardware to do correctly, and Internap would be stupid not to invest heavily in its own infrastructure right now. There are many other service providers at the ready if Internap is caught unprepared to handle its contracts. It's a mad land grab right now, and the sooners will profit in years to come.

Internap looks small even next to small-time players Limelight Networks (Nasdaq: LLNW) and Savvis (Nasdaq: SVVS), and needs to catch up to the big boys' fatter hardware assets. The company is starting 2011 by building another data center in Dallas, and management sees the company on a path to "long-term profitable growth."

Keep a close eye on Internap's growth plans by adding the stock to your Foolish watchlist.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. Akamai Technologies and Rackspace Hosting are Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendations. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.