And the 2008 Stock Madness Winner Is ...

Larry dished to Sergey but Steve blocked the shot. Again ... again ... and again.

Thus it went as Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) -- which you had already as the best stock for 2008 -- trounced Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) with 63% of the vote in Monday's final-round showdown. The tale of the tape:

Metric

Apple

Google

CAPS stars (out of 5)

****

***

Total ratings

15,787

10,797

Bullish ratings

14,541

8,508

Percent bulls

92.1%

78.8%

Bearish ratings

1,246

2,289

Percent bears

7.9%

21.2%

Bullish pitches

3,302

1,580

Bearish pitches

353

653

Data current as of April 11.

On balance, you agreed that Apple, and its outstanding return on capital, is worth far more than its current price tag of $133 billion. Especially when the iconic iPhone could, in a few years, rival or surpass Research In Motion's BlackBerry -- a $68 billion business as of this writing.

Not that Google was completely blown away. The team that upended Warren Buffett's Berskhire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A  ) (NYSE: BRK-B  ) and razzle-dazzled Canadian National Railway took it straight at the iEmpire. Foolish colleague Anders Bylund powerfully pointed out that DoubleGoo, the faster grower, boasts a lower PEG ratio yet produces better operating margins.

But that wasn't enough. Apple CEO Steve Jobs and his legion of Mac addicts, still ripe from fast breaking past Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX  ) and dunking over Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX  ) , ultimately won the right to cut down the nets.

A pair of shining moments
This year's tournament, like its real-life counterpart, featured few upsets. But if there was a Davidson College in the Foolish field, it has to be Canadian National Railway. Coach Todd Wenning shocked the investing world with a first-round victory over National Oilwell Varco (NYSE: NOV  ) .

Todd argued that although National Oilwell's fate is tied to record prices for black gold, Canadian National benefits from several commodities. CN also boasts exclusive shipping rights between Canada's west coast and China, an advantage that makes it a great stock to buy, Todd wrote.

You agreed, but it was close: Coach Toby Shute almost won you over with tales of an overstuffed order book and an aging fleet of drilling rigs in need of precisely the services that National Oilwell Varco provides.

Our final entrant -- Dolby Labs (NYSE: DLB  ) -- lost to Starbucks at the buzzer, but coach Rich Duprey had the right plays called for most of this opening-round contest. Four high-growth markets spur the company's expectations-busting fast break, Rich argued.

Call it a bold performance that fell short only when coffee king Howard Schultz returned to the bench with a box full of triple espressos, giving Starbucks and coach Joe Magyer a victory. (Switching to lattes in the second-round match-up against the iEmpire proved fatal, however.)

Wait till next year!
So, well done, Mac addicts. You've avenged last year's Final Four loss to eventual champion Chesapeake Energy. Your team is (mostly) on a roll.

With an $18.4 billion war chest and a still-massive growth opportunity ahead of it, I don't see your fortunes changing soon.

Recapture all the Stock Madness glory.

Apple, Berkshire Hathaway, Canadian National Railway, Dolby Labs, Netflix, and Starbucks are Stock Advisor selections. Berkshire, Chesapeake Energy, and Starbucks are Inside Value picks. Get 30 days of unfettered access to the research and recommendations of either of these market-beating services for 30 days. There's no obligation to subscribe.

Fool.com and Rule Breakers contributor Tim Beyers, like The Motley Fool, owned shares of Berkshire Hathaway at the time of publication. The Fool, whose disclosure policy can still hit the NBA three, also owns shares of Starbucks.


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