Slumping personal computer maker Hewlett-Packard Co.'s latest quarterly results provided a glimmer of hope after months of gloomy news.
The fiscal first-quarter numbers announced Thursday topped the forecast of HP's own management, as well as stock market analysts.
That's an about-face from the previous two quarters, when HP announced losses totaling $15.3 billion as the company accounted for past acquisitions gone awry, to the shock of Wall Street.
Like other PC makers, HP has also been struggling to adapt to a shift toward smartphones and tablet computers, which are siphoning sales away from desktop and laptop machines made by HP and other companies.
Those problems are still plaguing HP, but the signs of progress in the latest quarter indicated that the company's turnaround efforts are running ahead of schedule. CEO Meg Whitman has consistently said it may be several years before HP is on solid ground again.
"The patient showed some improvement," Whitman said in a Thursday interview. "I don't want to get out over my skis"
The company's stock price surged $1.09, or 6.4 percent, to $18.19 in extended trading.
HP earned $1.2 billion, or 63 cents per share, in the three months ending in January. That was a 16 percent decrease from nearly $1.5 billion, or 73 cents per share, at the same time a year earlier.
If not for certain accounting items, HP said it would have earned 82 cents per share. That was well above the average estimate of 71 cents per share among analysts surveyed by FactSet.
Revenue fell 6 percent to $28.4 billion, about $470 million above analyst projections.
It's the sixth consecutive quarter that HP's revenue has dropped from the previous year.