Apple has become the most valuable computer maker in the world.

Driven by the company's record-setting Q4 financial results and a wave of positive upgrades from analysts across the board, Apple's shares shot North to close at $186.10 per share last night. While the shares have lost $1.80 on early trading, the company's market capital remains around the $161.84 billion mark.

That's higher than IBM ($155b); Intel ($156b), Nokia ($150b). It puts Apple into fourth place in the top technology stocks, behind Cisco ($189b), Google ($208b) and Microsoft ($290b).

With strong growth across all its product range predicted, and an ongoing mass resurgence in Mac sales, Apple seems set to maintain its momentum.

The huge increase in market capital also underscores the notion of the iPod halo - a halo which seems to be driving interest in Macs and the iPhone.

Industry watchers observe that Apple's success can also be attributed to Microsoft's failure to ignite the market with its new OS, Windows Vista. Many Windows users are moving to Mac - with Apple this week confirming 50 per cent of Macs sold through its retail stores are sold to new users.

Apple's move to surpass IBM in market capital was first predicted earlier this month by Georges Yared of Yared Investment Research.

Yared compared Apple's market worth with that of IBM, observing: "Apple will surpass IBM before the first quarter of 2008 is in the books, if not sooner."