Mind Your Own Business, Boys

Hewlett-Packard's Carly Fiorina is starting to turn doubters into believers. But can she boost profits while rivals Dell and IBM attack her flanks?

Carly Fiorina has long struck a tone of defiant self-assurance, and it's beginning to seem justified. The CEO of tech giant Hewlett-Packard proved adept at playing Wall Street hardball, leading her company's ferociously contested proxy battle to buy Compaq Computer for $19 billion. She promised big benefits from that acquisition and last week began to deliver them. HP's quarterly earnings report showed the company stemming losses in its most troubled divisions--PCs and corporate computer systems--and surpassing its cost-cutting goals. HP shares have surged 72% since early October, including 15% last week.

Fiorina has quieted some of those she calls her "cynics...

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