Leading indicators
A Compendium of revealing stats
by Oliver Ryan, FORTUNE Magazine

(FORTUNE Magazine) - Microsoft Farms 1,400,000

Size in square feet of data centers Microsoft is building on farmland near Quincy, Wash. Equivalent to ten Costcos, the "server farms" are a part of Microsoft's strategy to exploit the booming market for web-based software and services--but the heavy spending has spooked investors and sent MSFT shares tumbling.

See America Last -35%

Drop between 1992 and 2005 of the U.S. share of the global travel market, partly due to post-9/11 issues. The shift toward other countries has cost the U.S. economy $286 billion in revenue.

Warrenfest '06 24,000

Expected record-setting attendance at the May 6 annual meeting of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway. That's 14% larger than last year's crowd, a jump that easily bests the 6.4% rise in the book value of Berkshire shares in 2005. Still, at 21.5%, Berkshire's 40-year average performance trumps both.

Pay Phones 25 million

Estimated number of cellphone subscribers who in 2011 might "swipe" their phones instead of using cash or credit cards to make payments. Phone-based "mobile wallets" may also replace membership cards and other forms of ID.

Giants of the Law 170%

Growth in the number of attorneys at the 100 top-grossing U.S. law firms over the past 19 years. The average headcount at these firms jumped from 260 in 1986 to 702 in 2005, and their share of all working lawyers nearly doubled, to 6.4%. In 2005 these giants generated an average profit per partner of $1.1 million.

Sources: Seattle Times, Travel Industry Association of America, Berkshire Hathaway, In-Stat, The American/Lawyer/AM Law 100 Top of page