In its business segment, and for the first six months of the fiscal year, HP is holding up much better than Dell. Sales fell by 2.7%, from $27.7 to $26 billion, but operating profit rose by 26.6%, from $1.5 to $1.9 billion.

Cash profit, or free cash flow, was also up, from $298 million to $425 million. As a result, HP is resuming share buy-backs, with $600 million already earmarked for this purpose in 2024. Over the first six months of the year, if we add dividend distribution, the Group returned a total of $1.1 billion to its shareholders.

This is a remarkable figure when set against a market capitalization that has hovered around $30 billion over the past twelve months. It was precisely the promise of substantial returns to shareholders - notably via share buybacks at a valuation that had remained anchored at less than ten times earnings for five years - that had attracted Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway to the capital.

In this respect, the recent exit of Berkshire - which had become the largest shareholder - came as something of a surprise to the market. The astonishment was all the greater given that HP represented only a negligible portion of the Omaha-based conglomerate's portfolio of listed holdings.

Rumors were rife: since nothing had changed in terms of valuation and fundamentals, had Buffett learned through other, less formal channels something the market didn't know? No doubt, because how else to explain the sale?

The results published on Thursday seem to have allayed these fears, at least temporarily, as the share price jumped in the wake.