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Forget about Black Friday. Cyber Monday is where it's at nowadays. The biggest shopping weekend of the year is subtly shifting its weight toward the tail end, as American consumers start to figure out that the best deals are found online -- often with free shipping and no sales tax, to boot. It's a brave new retail world.

And that's where Akamai Technologies (NASDAQ:AKAM) comes in. The company has been smoothing out the peaks and valleys of Internet traffic since the late 1990s. While Akamai doesn't try to sell anything directly to consumers, plenty of retailers use its global network of edge routers to ensure that our shopping experience on Web sites like Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) is as swift and responsive as possible.

The whole story
But retail traffic isn't the only key to Akamai's tasty profits. This company is forever on the bleeding edge of the most bandwidth-hungry Internet applications it can find, sticking a finger in as many juicy traffic pies as possible. 

Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) is a longtime customer, streaming images and ad content for one of the world's most popular online portal through Akamai for many years. According to Michael Arrington of TechCrunch, speculation persists that Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) recently used Akamai to handle the massive audiences for YouTube's first efforts with live streaming, which I think could be the start of a beautiful friendship. Heck, both Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) show up on Akamai's guest list -- the appeal of its technology seems to bridge longstanding rivalries left and right.

Oh, the irony!
Even as Akamai ushers you into cyberspace on your hunt for digital entertainment and awesome sales, the company itself is probably the best deal you can find today.

The stock has arguably become extremely cheap. Its shares have a habit of selling for about 20 times EBITDA, but now they cost only a little more than 6 times that amount. The company generates hundreds of millions of dollars of free cash flow. And its closest competitor is tiny Limelight Networks (NASDAQ:LLNW), with about one-sixth of Akamai's revenue, only seven years of operating history, and an arterial hemorrhage of red ink coloring its bottom line.

Akamai's future in a crystal ball
The world is going online in greater numbers every year, and our collective demand for the latest and greatest online content puts a huge strain on this global data network. While network operators are laying down thicker pipes all the time, it seems unlikely that more fiber and copper alone will be enough to satisfy this ravenous bandwidth hunger. Akamai provides another approach to solving that eternal crisis: squeezing more efficient use out of the networks we already have. Put the two approaches together, and the Net will be all right.

It doesn't matter how you look at Akamai's story. From a financial standpoint, the company is growing sales and widening profit margins. In a fundamental light, its balance sheet looks stable enough to support a skyscraper. And with a hard-boiled business mindset, you'll see that the company has built a wide moat around a business idea that promises to stay valid and very profitable for decades to come. You really should own Akamai.

Take action today!
What's not to love? If you agree, please mosey on over to our Motley Fool CAPS service and give Akamai a thumbs-up rating, as 95% of around 2,400 players have done before you. Feel free to add your own take on this brilliant stock while you're at it -- or tell me off in a scathing post that points out all the flaws in my logic. We'll all be richer for your involvement.

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