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Apple surpasses Microsoft

THE COMEBACK: The way Apple’s racking up victories lately, Steve Jobs is likely to get a big head, those DOJ pests notwithstanding. As of Wednesday, Wall Street valued Apple at $222.12 billion and Microsoft at $219.18 billion. The only American company valued higher is Exxon Mobil, with a market capitalization of $278.64 billion. The companies have comparable revenue, with Microsoft at $58.4 billion and Apple at $42.9 billion. But in their most recent fiscal years, Apple had net income of $5.7 billion, while Microsoft earned $14.6 billion. Microsoft has more cash and short-term investments, $39.7 billion, to Apple’s $23.1 billion, which makes the value assigned by the market to Apple, essentially a bet on its future prospects, all the more remarkable. As the N.Y. Times poetically put it, “Wall Street has called the end of an era and the beginning of the next one: The most important technology product no longer sits on your desk but rather fits in your hand… Consumer tastes have overtaken the needs of business as the leading force shaping technology.” (5/27a)

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