BEA Systems (NASDAQ:BEAS) reported a strong fourth-quarter showing last night after market close, exceeding analysts' expectations and tempting investors to wonder if it's beating the pants off archrival IBM (NYSE:IBM).

The company, which provides Web infrastructure products that act as a kind of "digital DNA" for corporations, touted its return to double-digit revenue growth and breaking the $1 billion revenue mark.

BEA reported fourth-quarter earnings of $42.8 million, or $0.10 per share, compared to $35 million, or $0.08 per share, a year ago. Revenues increased 10% to $278.1 million. Licensing fees, which crept up 2% last quarter, were up 6% this time around.

The company with many of the usual suspects in tech, such as Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Sun Microsystems (NASDAQ:SUNW). Its big, bad rival, however, truly is Big Blue, which provides the WebSphere product to compete with its own WebLogic. BEA claims 500 head-to-head wins against IBM.

In its conference call (transcript courtesy of CCBN StreetEvents), BEA said its deal making has involved new and existing customers such as AT&T Wireless (NYSE:AWE), Citibank (NYSE:C), and Dell (NASDAQ:DELL).

BEA, which had a similarly upbeat third quarter, sees a continued good year ahead, prognosticating that it will post $260 million to $270 million in revenues for its fiscal first quarter.

So, here's one thing to jot down in your notes about the outlook for the economy: BEA may have been a little cautious last quarter, what with "continuing challenges in the IT spending environment." It sounds like a much more upbeat outlook this time around, citing both the usual seasonality as well as promising momentum.

Whether or not BEA can show IBM a thing or two, one thing's for certain: Its strong signing of customers shows an economy that's dying to get back on track. Investing in electronic infrastructure shows that maybe a lot of enterprises are peeking back out of their hibernation. And that's good news. Investors thought so, too, bidding shares of BEA up about 4% in afternoon trading.

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Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.