By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
September 26, 2009

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).

  • Oct. 14, 2008: Steve Jobs introduces new MacBooks (link)
  • Dec. 16, 2008: Apple announces it is pulling out of Macworld (link)
  • Jan. 5, 2009: Jobs says he has a “hormone imbalance” (link)
  • Jan. 6, 2009: Phil Schiller delivers Apple’s last Macworld keynote (link)
  • Jan. 14, 2009: Jobs takes a medical leave (link)
  • Mar. 17, 2009: Apple previews iPhone 3.0 software (link)
  • Apr. 23, 2009: 1 billionth iPhone app downloaded (link)
  • June 8, 2009: iPhone 3GS, $99 iPhone 3G announced at WWDC (link)
  • June 19, 2009: iPhone 3GS launches, 1 million sold in first weekend (link)
  • June 20, 2009: Jobs’ liver transplant revealed (link)
  • June 29, 2009: Jobs is “back to work” (link)
  • Aug. 28, 2009: Snow Leopard launched (link)
  • Aug. 28, 2009: China Unicom announces deal to sell iPhones in China (link)
  • Sept. 9, 2009: Jobs returns to stage, unveils new iPods (link)
  • Sept. 23, 2009: FASB approves subscription accounting change (link)

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