--"Roaring back from the Great Recession, the 150 biggest public companies in Silicon Valley had their most profitable year in history in 2010, as their combined stock value climbed to the highest level since the Internet boom of 2000.
Revenue and profits soared as consumers flocked to buy new handheld gadgets, while corporations and public agencies resumed buying hardware and software to handle a rising tide of digital data -- from emails, tweets and videos to all manner of online transactions and Internet search results.
Those trends drove tech sales and profits higher than they were before the downturn of 2008 and 2009. For companies on the Mercury News' SV150 list, combined sales for the past four quarters rose 20.3% from a year earlier. Combined profit skyrocketed 78.6%. The list comprises the 150 biggest public companies, measured by revenue, that are based in Silicon Valley.
) led the way in profit, posting a stunning $16.6 billion in net income from its iPads, iPhones and other stylish gadgets. All told, the SV150 companies had a net profit margin of 15.6 percent -- the richest margin, by far, since the Mercury News began tracking the SV150 in 1985. Investors, for the most part, liked what they saw: The combined stock market value of the SV150 hit $1.55 trillion on March 31, up 11.4 percent from a year earlier.
Companies from startups to giants are moving into social networking and mobile computing -- new technologies that are luring consumers and workers into spending more time online, creating more data and spurring more sales for Silicon Valley businesses. These new technologies gained traction even in "the darkest period" of the recession, Accenture's John Walsh said. Now, they're part of what he called a renewed level of energy and optimism in Silicon Valley."