The Business Week 50

Who among the S&P 500 has the most on the ball? Our growth rankings offer surprising insights into America's most closely watched companies

In a period marred by slowing computer sales growth, allegations of antitrust, Capitol Hill hostility, and even a pie in the face, there is one thing William H. Gates III hasn't had to worry about: corporate performance. Whether you think Microsoft Corp. anticompetitive or simply ultracompetitive, under Gates's leadership it has racked up a record of annual profit and revenue increases that is the envy of Corporate America. "We've been cruising for 22 years," says Gates, Microsoft's chairman.

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