It seems that whenever a writer or pundit needs an example of a business that couldn't execute on its own opportunities or let phenomenal ideas just slip through its fingers, Xerox (NYSE:XRX) is the go-to company. Although that reputation is well-earned, it does overlook the fact that this company has turned itself around from the immediate post-bubble years, when some thought it was altogether doomed.

Still, surviving is not the same as thriving. While the company has been committed to boosting margins, top-line growth of just 1% in the third quarter highlights a principal challenge. Despite all the talk about migrating to digital technology, corporate IT departments aren't exactly throwing money around.

The rest of the quarter's performance seems like a mixed bag to me. Color technology revenue was up 22%. But, overall, equipment revenue was up just 2% and the post-sale and finance business barely grew at all (up 1%). Overall, performance in the production business was slightly negative, and performance in the office business was slightly positive. In other words, nothing is going anywhere fast right now.

Cash flow performance year to date is another good news, bad news scenario to me. The bad is that the company is producing less of it than a year ago. The good is that it's still strongly positive and free cash flow is tracking pretty close to reported net income. The company also announced that it will launch a $500 million share repurchase program. But that should be viewed in the context of comprising about 4% of today's market capitalization.

Competition from the likes of Canon (NYSE:CAJ) and Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) is still fierce, and we've seen what the corporate market has been worth to Lexmark (NYSE:LXK) of late. Last, but not least, how well has that digital transformation been working for Kodak (NYSE:EK)? I'd say "kudos" to anybody who picked this one up as a single-digit midget and turnaround candidate a while back -- you've earned a pretty good reward for taking on the risk that the turnaround wouldn't happen. But I'm not sure how much is left in the recovery tank at today's price.

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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).