Vive le PC!

So often in the stock market, when things are going well, they're going very well. This is especially true with the boom-and-bust nature of the technology-driven market sectors, such as personal computers.

So with Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) turning in an entertaining quarter and IBM (NYSE: IBM  ) posting very strong results yesterday, followed this morning by Dell (Nasdaq: DELL  ) upgrading its guidance, it's clear that the global PC market continues to enjoy a renaissance.

Indeed, you might even say the PC makers are on a European vacation. According to market researchers Gartner (NYSE: IT  ) and IDC, the second quarter showed huge gains, with total shipments estimated to be between 39 and 43 million. That's at least a 13% jump from last year's second quarter. The spike in demand is due to corporations replacing outdated models and a surge of interest from Europe, which Gartner says grew at more than 15%, easily surpassing the 11% growth seen here in the U.S.

Interestingly, the international boost to PC makers is something Motley Fool co-founder David Gardner predicted when I spoke with him in April about his choice of Dell for Motley Fool Stock Advisor. Back then, Dell had revised upward its expectations for first-quarter revenue. The company blew those numbers away and looks to be on the verge of another great quarter.

Dell was one of the biggest winners during the second quarter, raising its claim of global PC sales by more than 22%. Gartner pegs Dell's market share at 16.5%, while IDC puts it at 18.3%. Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) continued in the No. 2 spot, with a 14.3% share according to Gartner and a 15.7% share by IDC's count. IBM, Fujitsu, and Taiwanese computer maker Acer round out the top five. (Acer was also a big winner according to Gartner and IDC, boosting its market share by more than 30%.)

Investors can likely expect that good times will continue to roll for the PC makers, at least for a while. But don't expect it to last. The key to profiting from the sector long-term will be to invest in the firms that grow their market share more than the industry average. Right now, that's only the top five, with -- surprise! -- Dell at the head of the pack.

For more Fool coverage of the PC industry, try these:

LongtimeMotley Fool Stock Advisorpick Dell remains on a tear. Can the PC market keep it up? Or is this a temporary boost? And how about HP? Will it ever catch Dell? Debate all this and more at the Dell and Hewlett-Packard discussion boards -- only at Fool.com.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers thinks it's a good time for PC makers and for his favorite among the bunch: Apple. Tim owns no stake in any of the companies mentioned, and you can view his Fool profile here.


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