HP Beats the Street

HP continued to impress Wall Street analysts with its turnaround late Wednesday, posting quarterly earnings that handily beat expectations.

HP’s earnings of 48 cents a share were four cents ahead of estimates, and sales of $22.55 billion were $100 million above expectations. The company’s 6% sales growth was driven by 8% gains in personal systems and imaging and printing, to $7.4 billion and $6.5 billion, respectively, and a 29% jump in software sales to $304 million.

Enterprise storage and server sales rose 5% to $4.2 billion, and services declined 2% to $3.8 billion.

“We are continuing to deliver on our plan to strengthen HP and better serve our customers,” HP CEO Mark Hurd said in a statement. “Growth was balanced across most of our businesses and geographies, cash flow was strong and we were disciplined in controlling costs. While hard work remains ahead of us, our efforts are starting to show results.”

HP’s April quarter sales forecast of $22.4-$22.6 billion was just below estimates, while estimated profit of 47-49 cents a share was better than expected.

Shares of HP rose 3% after hours.

Also after the close, Applied Materials and Network Appliance also beat estimates.

Stocks rallied once again Wednesday, as falling oil prices overshadowed modestly hawkish testimony from new Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, who suggested that more interest rate hikes are likely.

The Nasdaq rose 14 to 2276, the S&P 500 climbed 4 to 1280, and the Dow rose 30 to 11,058, a new multi-year closing high. Volume declined to 2.32 billion shares on the NYSE, and 1.81 billion on the Nasdaq. Advancers led 20-11 on the NYSE, and 18-11 on the Nasdaq. Upside volume was 64% on the NYSE, and 71% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 152-19 on the NYSE, and 132-27 on the Nasdaq.

Blue Coat Systems tumbled 22% on another warning.

August Tech fell as its merger vote with Rudolph Tech gets under way.

RealNetworks slumped 6% on its results.

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