Apple's (AAPL) fiscal year, which ends Saturday, finished on a strong note.
The company won't release its earnings for a few weeks, but shareholders can already see the most visible rewards -- a stock that returned gains of nearly 45% over a 12 month period in which the S&P 500 lost 15%.
The last eight months were particularly impressive. The stock climbed from a 2-year low of $78.20 a share on Jan. 20 to close Friday at $182.37 -- up 133%.
The stock's roller coaster performance over the first four months were driven in part by broad economic trends and in part by concerns about Steve Jobs' health. But its recovery, I suspect, had less to do with Jobs' return than with the company's underlying strength.
Below the fold: The year's highlights (with links to Apple 2.0's coverage).
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