Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) is crushing archrival Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) with a nonchalant smile. The enterprise-class storage and servers division reported a 13% sequential sales boost to $4.2 billion, and the personal systems group saw 17% higher sales over last quarter. By way of comparison, Dell's best-performing division -- small and medium business systems -- reported a 5% sequential gain last week.

The conclusion is obvious: HP is following Intel's (NASDAQ:INTC) lead to serious regrowth, while Dell is falling behind and losing market share. Dell's deal with Perot Systems is starting to look smart, because that business plugs into the services sector -- and Dell might need a Plan B if it can't sell systems anymore.

The trend couldn't come at a better time for HP -- or a worse one for Dell. In case you forgot, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) released Windows 7 a few weeks ago, and it looks ready to fuel a massive rebound in corporate IT spending -- starting in the next couple of quarters. Not a good time to show weakness, but great timing for flexing your biceps in front of prospective customers.

And with the purchase of 3Com (NASDAQ:COMS), HP moves into the networking arena. I can't help but think that Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO) broke the camel's back here when the networking giant overstepped its boundaries with a line of Cisco-branded server-class computers. HP is paying back in kind, and I'm just waiting for IBM (NYSE:IBM) to do the same.

HP is kicking butt and taking names, thanks to a disciplined version of the time-honored strategy of growth by acquisition. Where's the next big buyout in technology -- and will HP be the buyer? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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