WSJ By The Numbers - Top 10 for Nov.27

$15 Billion Solar Power Cells: Energy Conversion Devices Inc. is the largest U.S.-owned maker of photovoltaic materials, which convert sunlight to electricity. The exploding global PV industry has sales of $15 billion a year. Solar power -- invented in the U.S. in the 1950s and improved on in the space program in the 1960s -- was a made-in-America product. Today, the U.S. holds third place in solar-power production, behind Japan and Germany, while China is closing fast. Earlier this year, California launched an 11-year, $2.85 billion incentive program that provides rebates to consumers to reduce by as much as 30% the cost of solar rooftop installations. (After Decades, A Solar Pioneer Sees Spark in Sales)

180,000 Network of Informants: Gerson Lehrman has assembled an army of 180,000 "consultants" from companies ranging from J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. to New York Times Co., and sells their time for top dollar. Sales at Gerson Lehrman are expected to approach $200 million in 2006, with profit margins exceeding 25%. Clients now include Steven Cohen's influential hedge fund SAC Capital Advisors, mutual-fund giant Fidelity Investments and many of Wall Street's big investment banks.(Seeking an Edge, Big Investors Turn to Network of Informants)

140 million Shoppers on Black Friday: ShopperTrak RCT Corp. estimated that Black Friday sales nationwide increased 6% from the previous year, reaching $8.96 billion. The National Retail Federation, which predicts that holiday sales will increase 5% this year to $457.4 billion, said more than 140 million people went shopping on Friday. Web retail sales, not including travel, jumped 42% on Black Friday to $434 million from $305 million a year earlier, according to comScore Networks.As of Friday, consumers had spent $8.31 billion since Nov. 1 on nontravel purchases on the Web, up 23% from $6.75 billion a year ago, according to comScore.(Holiday Sales Get Off to Solid Start, But Wal-Mart Doesn't Share Cheer)

Vista and $200B PC Industry: Microsoft's Vista operating system is a central pillar for the company's  overall growth and an engine of the $200 billion PC industry. For Microsoft, Windows is still its largest business unit, contributing $13 billion in revenue and profits of $10 billion in its most recent full fiscal year. (Life After Vista: Can Microsoft Retool for Web?)

Innovation Billions at Universities: According to a survey by the Association of University Technology Managers, 196 U.S. academic and nonprofit institutions reported nearly $1.4 billion in net licensing income from various innovations in 2004, up from about $1.3 billion in 2003 and just $218 million in 1991. The Milken Institute ranked MIT at No.1 and Stanford at No.4 most successful university at commercializing technology in 2000-2004. (More Universities Increasing Support For Campus Start-Ups)

$160 billion Gap: In 2004, companies in U.S. reported roughly 40% higher profits to Wall Street -- known as book income -- than to tax authorities. Publicly traded companies reduced their U.S. taxable income by at least $34.8 billion in 2004 through potentially abusive tax transactions without taking a similar hit on profits reported to shareholders, new Internal Revenue Service data show. U.S. public companies included in the data reported about $554 billion in pretax profits to Wall Street in 2004, but only about $394 billion to the IRS. (Minding the Gap: IRS Looks Closer At Profit Disparity)

iTunes to 500 million Downloaded Songs?: Sales of downloaded songs held steady at 137 million songs in the second and third calendar quarters of this year, a slight dip from 144 million in the first quarter. iTunes commands 72% of the online-song market (enough to make it the No. 4 retailer of music in any form), while eMusic, its closest rival, holds just 10% and most competitors -- Yahoo Music, Napster, RealNetworks Rhapsody, and Microsoft's Zune -- languish in the low single digits. Apple also owns some 75% of the market for MP3-player sales with its wildly popular iPod. (Can Anybody Catch iTunes?)

A compendium of revealing market place stats, key leading economic indicators, and business metrics based on today's Wall Street Journal articles and reports.

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