HP’s worldview

February 20, 2008, 3:09 AM UTC

You can sum up the success of Hewlett-Packard’s (HPQ) solid first-quarter results in one word: Globalization. HP, an iconic Silicon Valley company, long has been a globetrotter. It was early into China, for example, and one reason its painful periods of cost-cutting have been noteable is its sizeable workforce in Europe, where it’s tough to fire people.

Tuesday, though, a big part of HP’s success is the very nature of its non-U.S. sales. The company gets 69% of its sales outside the United States, and it’s reaping the benefits. Revenue grew 13% to $28.5 billion in the quarter that ended in January, an astounding feat for a company that estimates its overall revenues this fiscal year will total as much as $114 billion. Earnings, minus one-time events, grew 31% to $2.8 billion. The company threw off $3.2 billion in cash.

It’s a sign of the times we live in that CEO Mark Hurd is positively giddy about HP’s performance outside the U.S. He told journalists Tuesday afternoon that U.S. revenue growth of 6% wasn’t too shabby but that consumer spending at home isn’t “as robust as we’ve seen in the past.” It’s good news, he said, that HP’s “Americas” business isn’t as big a part of the company’s overall business as it used to be. In a sense, he echoed comments Goldman Sachs (GS) CEO Lloyd Blankfein made at a Fortune conference last October, noting that Goldman has to go where the capital is. HP, in turn, goes where the tech buyers are.

Giddy, by the way, is a good word to describe Hurd Tuesday afternoon. Anyone who knows the HP chief executive knows that he’s about as no-nonsense as they come. That hasn’t changed. But he’s clearly charged up. He rifled through his talking points with reporters — cost cutting, adding sales people (2,000 new ones last year alone), and a diverse product base are the three legs of his operational stool — and then good-naturedly answered quesitons for 15 minutes.

Hurd, who tends to run from the limelight, and, by extension, from journalists, almost seemed to be enjoying himself. Who can blame him?