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Gates gains $3 billion in 2 days

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates earned $3 billion in two days on paper as the company's stock surged in anticipation of today's earnings report.

He's rich and he's getting richer.

Bill Gates, chairman and chief executive of Microsoft(MSFT), increased his wealth--on paper--by $3 billion in the past two days.

In early trading this morning, shares of Microsoft exceeded their 52-week high for the second consecutive day. Microsoft's stock jumped as high as 150-3/4 in intraday trading, before closing at 149-1/2, up 1-1/8 from the previous day. In yesterday's trading, the stock closed at 148-7/18, gaining 9-31/32 over Tuesday.

The stock's 10-point-plus gain in the past two days bolsters Gates's 282 million shares by about $3 billion. That brings his personal wealth to roughly $45 billion--adding further justification for his title of the richest man in the world, excluding royalty and heads of state.

Microsoft also added wealth, reporting after the market's close today an 86 percent jump in its fourth-quarter earnings to $1.06 billion and a 41 percent increase in quarterly revenues to $3.18 billion.

Gates, however, may find his paper gains of the last two days a case of the proverbial "easy come, easy go."

Microsoft shares sank by more than three points after the market's close, deflated by fourth-quarter earnings that came below "whisper" estimates of upwards of 93 cents a share, dealers said.

Still, the software giant was slightly ahead of analysts' consensus estimates of 79 cents, according to First Call.

Traders said Microsoft stock traded at 146 after the bell, down from an unofficial close of 149-7/16. The year high is 149-8/16.

Reuters contributed to this report.