When Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) posted strong quarterly earnings last week, that was just Dell being gravity-defying Dell. But with Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) following up with some solid results of its own last night, would we be jinxing it if we admitted that the personal computer market looks to be bouncing back for good?

While HP has consistently produced in its flagship printing business, that segment basically carried the company as it suffered through hardware losses, holding Compaq's baggage claim check at the terminal. But the company closed out its fiscal year in healthy fashion with operating profits coming from all divisions during the fiscal fourth quarter.

With earnings of $0.28 a share and revenue climbing by 10% to $19.9 billion for the quarter, HP is gaining some welcome momentum as it enters a new fiscal year looking to earn roughly $1.42 a share.

This doesn't mean that CEO Carly Fiorina can call last year's controversial merger with Compaq a success just yet. The company's printing business still delivered the lion's share of HP's operating profits, a hearty $1 billion slice of the $1.4 billion pie.

But with Dell and HP providing uplifting news on the revenue and earnings front, that's the kind of news that other tech bellwethers like Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) were waiting on before popping the champagne cork.

Rivals Gateway (NYSE:GTW) and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) are blessed with cash-rich balance sheets to weather the cyclical storm, but it looks like the recovery party might be coming sooner rather than later. For all we know it may have already started and you're just fashionably late.

In retrospect, should HP have merged with Compaq? What will drive the company higher in 2004? Is the stock ready for some Wall Street loving? All this and more -- in theHewlett-Packarddiscussion board. Only on Fool.com.