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HP's Hurd proving he's a lot more than one-hit wonder

With the company's latest banner results, chief Mark Hurd is putting more distance between himself and his CEO peers.

Long before you had Hillary versus Obama, you had Carly versus Hurd. (Strange how both women were commonly referred to by their first names--but let's leave that to another day.)

Even before Hewlett-Packard dumped her, I was on record arguing that Fiorina was under-appreciated and was drawing flak, in part, because of her gender. I also thought she did HP a huge favor by shaking up its sclerotic corporate culture and planted seeds that ultimately would bear fruit for the company.

By now, that's only interest as a bar room argument. What's clear is that Mark Hurd has HP performing splendidly, which was underscored by the company's latest quarterly results, reported after the market's close on Tuesday. Listening to the "gloomsdayers," the world as we know it is coming to an end--and so it may now that the New York Giants have defied the gods and defeated the not-so-mighty New England Patriots. But if we're all going down, Hurd is making sure HP finishes in fine style.

Here's a link to HP's press release on Business Wire.

Here are the highlights:

• Net income climbed 38 percent

• Revenue increased 13 percent

• Management raised guidance

Here's the play-by-play from the conference call, courtesy of Silicon Alley Insider.

Also, check out another perspective on HP by my CNET colleague, ZDNet's Larry Dignan.

By any measure, this was a wow performance. I'm sure number crunchers can find something to complain about if they look long enough. For instance, printer growth slowed. But compare HP's general business forecast with Cisco Systems' tentative outlook following its quarterly report last month. Cisco's numbers were decent but management rattled the market when the company warned of a slowdown in orders on new products from Europe and the U.S..

That fed into the currently conventional narrative that IT customers have pulled back on technology spending and that tech is thus headed for a world of hurt.

Is that the case? The stock market sure believes more trouble is on the horizon. Shares of most high-tech stocks have taken a shellacking since the end of November. To be sure, Hurd acknowledged the increasing level of nervousness and so he played it conservatively, preferring not to promise more than HP can deliver. While alluding to the obvious macroeconomic factors, he still underscored that HP is in "control of many of the levers that drive our performance."

With the company's latest banner results, Hurd is putting more distance between himself and his CEO peers. His company remains one of the few exceptions to the rule in tech land by actually raising its guidance.

Still, only a Panglossian optimist would declare the return of "Cramerica." Fact is that this is not your typical company as HP has several stories to tell because of the different businesses it operates. What's more, about 69 percent of its revenue comes from outside of the U.S.

If the financial industry's woes continue to spread, more tech companies likely will suffer accordingly. But Hurd, who arrived from NCR with a reputation as a managerial whiz, is no one-hit wonder. True, he's had a very strong hand to start with, but credit the guy with knowing how to play his cards better than most of his contemporaries.