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NEW YORK (

TheStreet

-- Investors will be scanning

Hewlett-Packard

(HPQ) - Get HP Inc. Report

third-quarter results

for signs that the tech sector is starting out on the road to recovery.

The PC maker's post-market close Tuesday should provide some much-needed insight into the state of IT spending.

H-P was one of

TheStreet.com

's

top tech picks

for 2009, thanks largely to its recession-busting credentials, although CEO Mark Hurd has had his work cut out in recent months.

The tech bellwether's

second quarter

certainly felt the impact of the economic slowdown with

TheStreet Recommends

profit plunging

year over year. H-P's revenue also slipped 3% as PC sales plummeted.

Despite strong

second-quarter

results from rival

IBM

(IBM) - Get International Business Machines Corporation Report

, Wall Street clearly thinks that H-P is still not out of the woods. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expect H-P to post third-quarter revenue of $27.25 billion and earnings of 90 cents a share, compared to $28 billion and 86 cents a share in the prior year's third quarter.

As the world's dominant PC maker and a barometer for global tech spending, H-P's desktop and notebooks sales will inevitably come under the microscope.

At least one analyst thinks that H-P's Imaging and Printing Group (IPG), which includes scanners, printers, toners and paper, should offer some long-term upside.

H-P's IPG revenue fell 23% year-over-year during the second quarter, but that doesn't worry R.W. Baird analyst Jayson Noland."

The company's management positioned the downturn in IPG as 'cyclical' rather than 'secular' and expects the business to rebound with GDP," wrote Noland after a recent H-P investor briefing. "We generally agree and continue to recommend purchase of H-P on attractive long-term risk/reward."

Noland may be bullish, but H-P rival

Dell

(DELL) - Get Dell Technologies Inc Class C Report

recently

warned

that IT spending by large enterprises and SMBs is still very weak and predicted that the real rebound will not come until 2010.

With recession-strapped companies seeking out new revenue streams and the tech sector experiencing a general

upheaval

recently, and investors will be looking for more insight into Hurd's long-term strategy, which up to now the company has unveiled in bits and pieces.

The CEO is ramping up the firm's networking business, increasingly touting H-P's ProCurve products as an alternative to

Cisco's

(CSCO) - Get Cisco Systems, Inc. Report

switches and routers. A long-standing partner of both H-P and IBM, Cisco recently rattled Silicon Valley by entering the server market, prompting much gnashing of teeth in Palo Alto.

H-P, which competes with

EMC

(EMC)

and

NetApp

(NTAP) - Get NetApp, Inc. Report

, also has its eye on cloud services, recently

buying

storage software specialist

Ibrix

for an undisclosed fee.

Cloud services, which let users access compute and storage services via the Internet, are becoming increasingly popular, prompting something of an arms race between companies like H-P, IBM and

Oracle

(ORCL) - Get Oracle Corporation Report

.

H-P has also been attempting to exploit Oracle's purchase of

Sun Microsystems

(JAVA)

, recently

fluttering its eyelashes

at any worried Sun customers.

H-P shares rose 13 cents, 0.3%, to $43.24 Tuesday as the Nasdaq climbed 1.05%.