April 11, 2012 in Business

Apple catches Microsoft in $600 billion milestone

Associated Press photo

A crowd lines up outside of the Apple store in Germantown, Tenn., in March. Apple’s market valuation hit the $600 billion level for the first time Tuesday.
(Full-size photo)

NEW YORK – Apple, already the world’s most valuable company, hit the $600 billion level for the first time Tuesday.

Only one other company has been worth $600 billion – Apple’s old sparring partner Microsoft Corp. It reached that valuation for 13 trading days around the turn of the millennium, at the peak of the technology stock mania.

At its highest level, on Dec. 30, 1999, Microsoft’s valuation was $619 billion. It’s now worth about $255 billion.

General Electric Co. came just short of reaching a $600 billion valuation in August 2000.

Apple shares hit $644 in morning trading, up 1.2 percent from Monday’s close. At that price, the entire company was worth $600.4 billion. By midday, the shares had retreated. The stock closed at $628.44, down 1.2 percent from the day before, putting the value below $600 billion again.

Best Buy CEO Dunn resigns following conduct inquiry

NEW YORK – Best Buy Co. CEO Brian Dunn, 50, abruptly resigned on Tuesday after the nation’s largest consumer electronics retailer said it decided to conduct an investigation into his “personal conduct.”

The departure compounds the problems at the retailer, which has been widely criticized for not responding fast enough to growing competition from Amazon.com and other online rivals and the changing shopping habits of Americans.

“Certain issues were brought to the board’s attention regarding Dunn’s personal conduct, unrelated to the company’s operations or financial controls, and an audit committee investigation was initiated,” according to a company statement issued late Tuesday. “Prior to the completion of the investigation, Mr. Dunn chose to resign.”

Dunn, a 28-year Best Buy veteran who had been CEO since 2009, could not be reached for comment on Tuesday, and Best Buy did not comment further on the circumstances of the investigation.

Board member Mike Mikan, 39, will serve as interim CEO while the company searches for a replacement.

Alcoa beats forecasts, reports aluminum profit

Alcoa may have given a slumping Wall Street just what it needed: a surprise profit.

The largest U.S. aluminum manufacturer said Tuesday that it earned 9 cents a share in the first quarter. It surpassed analyst forecasts for a small loss by selling more aluminum to a wide range of customers, including car makers and aircraft manufacturers, and operating its plants more efficiently.

Alcoa’s net income of $94 million marks a turnaround from the $191 million loss it reported for the fourth quarter. But it’s 70 percent below net income of $308 million, or 27 cents a share, posted in the year-earlier quarter.

Revenue rose to $6 billion from $5.95 billion.

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