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Apple Reaches Record U.S. Market Value on IPhone Expectation

Apple Inc. surpassed Microsoft Corp. Monday as the largest U.S. company ever, measured by stock-market value.

Apple hit the new milestone — $623.52 billion — at a time when its influence on the economy, on the stock market and on popular culture rivals that of some of the most powerful companies in U.S. history: General Motors Co., whose Corvette and Impala typified a confident postwar manufacturing giant; Microsoft, whose technology heralded the arrival of the personal computer and the early Internet age; and International Business Machines Corp., whose buttoned-down rigor inspired rivals to reach for greatness.

The shares of Cupertino, California-based Apple rose 2.6 percent to $665.15 at the close in New York yesterday, for a market value of $623.5 billion. That overtook Microsoft’s $616.3 billion closing market capitalization on Dec. 27, 1999, according to data compiled by S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC. Apple extended the gains today, advancing as much as 1.5 percent.

Apple is preparing to introduce the next version of the iPhone on Sept. 12 in what will be a design overhaul of its top- selling product, two people with knowledge of the company’s plans said last month. The next iPhone “could be the most impactful product upgrade in Apple’s history” and the company will probably sell as many as 250 million units over the life of the device, according to analysts at FBR Capital Markets.

“With the iPhone they have successfully created a strong customer following in an absolutely enormous marketplace,” Toni Sacconaghi, an analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., said yesterday. “They have captured the hearts and minds of consumers.”