One brokerage firm raised its rating on HP's shares while another nine raised their price targets

Hewlett-Packard (HP) certainly hasn't had the easiest of times lately with the decline of the PC industry and all. But the company managed to surprise analysts with its fourth quarter earnings (in a good way). 

According to HP, its fourth quarter revenue for 2013 was $29.1 billion -- beating analyst forecasts of $27.9 billion. HP also maintained its full-year earnings forecast.

The hike in revenue was due to growth in its enterprise group, which provides businesses with servers, storage and networking products. The company said enterprise sales increased 2 percent in the fourth quarter compared to the year-ago quarter. It rose 12 percent compared with the third quarter.

The fact that the PC industry continues to decline in the wake of mobile device releases like smartphones, tablets and convertibles is just one reason analysts didn't have high expectations for HP's fourth quarter earnings. However, the company reported a smaller-than-expected drop in PC sales for the quarter. 

HP is also shying away from the PC sector and focusing more closely on areas that have long-term promise.

Another reason analysts were surprised by HP's earnings is because of decreased sales in China. Cisco, which recently released disappointing quarterly figures, saw a decline in China. 

But HP seems to be doing well there too, as revenue in the Asia Pacific region grew 4 percent in the quarter.

HP shares rose 9 percent to $27.33 in early Wednesday trading after ratings on its shares were raised (another nine brokerage firms raised their price targets). This represents the company's largest one-day jump in the last year. 

"Through improved execution, strong cost management, and with the support of our customers and partners, HP ended fiscal 2013 on a high note," said Meg Whitman, HP president and CEO. "Our Q4 results demonstrate that HP's turnaround remains on track heading into fiscal 2014. While we still have much more work to do, our business units and their core assets are delivering on HP's strategy to help customers thrive by providing solutions for the New Style of IT."

Whitman said in October that the new game plan is "multiple operating systems, multiple architectures and multiple form factors," adding that HP is "moving quickly to produce the devices that customers want." 

Source: HP

"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer
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