Every Wednesday morning, I go to the gym. The row of TVs in front of my favorite treadmill usually displays some sort of market data, so I can work out and still keep up with my job. Today, CNBC was all aglow with news about a company I'm covering. IBM's (NYSE:IBM) very impressive earnings report last night sent the stock about 5% higher overnight, thereby helping the Dow Jones index cross the 12,000 line for the first time ever.

And the talking heads went on discussing the importance of hitting 12,000 over and over and over again, and as far as IBM goes, they just wanted to make sure that the 5% gain held up so the market could close tonight above that imaginary line in the sand.

What a shame. Big Blue deserved much better than being relegated to a mere sideshow today. Sales were up by a healthy 5%, net profit grew more than 50%, and free cash flow rocketed up more than 77%. The balance sheet has never looked stronger, and shareholders should be happy about the continued share buyback program and generous dividend, too.

There is simply nothing to complain about here, and lots to admire. And the competition better sit up and take notice -- this isn't some sleepy megacap with internal bureaucracy keeping it from reacting to changes in the marketplace. That might have been true years ago, but not today. BEA Software (NASDAQ:BEAS) and Red Hat (NASDAQ:RHAT) need to pay attention to IBM's WebSphere products, which saw 30% higher sales year over year. Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL) and Computer Associates (NYSE:CA) need to contend with an Information On Demand strategy bolstered by the recent FileNet acquisition, as well as the Tivoli product line, which grew revenues at 44%.

I could go on, but it's time to wrap things up. IBM is going where the opportunities are, and right now they are in enterprise software and the accompanying support services. And when those winds start to turn, you can expect management to adjust accordingly on short notice. I'm much more impressed by what I see happening at Big Blue than I'll ever be about some market benchmark, especially one based on the performance of just 30 companies.

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Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. You can check out Anders' holdings if you like. Foolishdisclosureis for real, yo.