Data security and backup management software might not be as sexy as computer games or video editing. But some of the best investments lurk in unloved markets, and Symantec (Nasdaq: SYMC) might deserve a little love right now.

The company just reported a very good quarter: 15% sales growth over last year and 25% higher earnings per share. After 15 straight quarters with non-GAAP EPS bouncing between $0.22 and $0.29 per share, Symantec finally broke through with a $0.33 per-share result.

Management credits a slate of fresh releases into the enterprise data management space for the improvement, and says that the backup-software market share that was lost to McAfee (NYSE: MFE) last year is starting to trickle back again.

There's also "broad international exposure" to insulate Symantec from any domestic downturns, and the company feels good about its position in exciting segments such as virtualization support and software aimed at small businesses. This is one of VMware's (NYSE: VMW) preferred partners, for example.

A recent spate of security breaches has reemphasized the importance of protecting your data, and even Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) is highlighting the security improvements in Windows Vista over all the other new, cool stuff. Symantec looks poised to benefit from that trend.

So the next time you're thinking about an investment in Electronic Arts (Nasdaq: ERTS) or Adobe Systems (Nasdaq: ADBE), forget about the sex appeal and take a look at security software, too. There's lots to love about a profit breakthrough.

Further Foolishness:

Electronic Arts is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation, and both Symantec and Microsoft have caught the eyes of our Motley Fool Inside Value analysts. Let's hope they don't go cross-eyed, following both.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any company discussed here. You can check out Anders' holdings if you like, and Foolish disclosure is always in vogue.