2014 IW US 500: Making It in the USA David McNew, Getty Images

2014 IW US 500: Making It in the USA

IW U.S. manufacturers generated $6.07 trillion in revenue in 2013.

Manufacturing in the U.S. continues to remain in the slow lane on the road to recovery.

IW U.S. manufacturers saw revenues creep downward less than 1% to $6.07 trillion in 2013, as 32% of the companies comprising this year’s IW 500 – IndustryWeek’s annual list of the largest publicly-held U.S. manufacturers based on revenue – reported a contraction in revenue.

The total revenues of the top 500 manufacturers fell just shy -- $3.45 billion -- of the record figures recorded on the 2013 IW U.S. 500.

However, while overall revenues slipped downward, total profits climbed 10.87% to $561 billion. Apple Inc. (IW 500/4) (AAPL) led the pack, generating $37 billion in profit, which, while still $4.5 billion higher than the next closest company on the list, was 11.25% less than the Cupertino, Ca.-based electronics company raked in the previous year.

Only 12% of the IW U.S. 500 companies didn’t turn a profit in 2013, with Alcoa Inc. (IW 500/53) (AA) suffering a $2.3 billion net loss – a 1,296% decline from a profitable 2012.

These ups and downs on the financial front are indicative of the languorous nature of the overall domestic manufacturing recovery, a recovery plagued by wins and losses.

Through June 2014, the Institute for Supply Management reported 13 consecutive months of expansion in the manufacturing sector.

Yet, despite the growth, Cliff Waldman, senior economist for the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation, predicts that growth in the sector will remain moderate through 2015.

"It remains clear that factory sector activity is being impeded by the persistent questions and difficulties of a sluggish U.S. economy and the numerous region-specific issues in the global business picture," Waldman said.

The inconsistency in the sector is further evidenced by the volatile moves companies made among the ranks.

Greatest Gains

ARRIS Group Inc. (IW 500/258) (ARRS)

2014 rank: 258

2013 rank: 467

Change: 209

ARRIS, a telecommunications equipment provider, doubled in size with its April 2013 acquisition of the Motorola Home business from General Instrument Holdings, a Google subsidiary.

Through the $2.4 billion acquisition, ARRIS increased its sales 167% in 2013 to $3.6 billion and brought its number of employees to 6,500 -- nearly tripling its workforce. 

"As a result of our successful acquisition and integration of Motorola Home, we are a larger, stronger and much more relevant supplier to a growing worldwide customer community.  Moreover, 2014 is looking to be our best year ever," said Bob Stanzione, ARRIS Chairman and CEO. 

The acquisition moved the company into the set-top box business and diversified its customer base from primarily cable television multiple system operators to include telephone companies and programmers, and retail distribution channels.

That move allowed ARRIS to propel up the IW U.S. 500 list, climbing more than 200 spots on the annual ranking.

Regency Energy Partners LP (IW 500/329) (RGP)

2014 rank: 329

2013 rank: 469

Change: 140

The Dallas-based midstream natural gas company was aggressive in 2013, announcing plans to snatch up two companies – SUGS and Eagle Rock -- and merge with another -- PVR.

The $1.5 billion SUGS deal expanded the Regency's presence in the Permian Basin in Texas, while the PVR merger, which closed March 21 this year, moved the company into the Marcellus and Utica shales in the Appalachian Basin and the Granite Wash in the Mid-Continent region.

The $1.3 billion acquisition of Eagle Rock's midstream business closed July 1.

“The acquisition will complement Regency’s core gathering and processing business, and when combined with the recent acquisition of PVR Partners, will strengthen our existing positions in the Texas Panhandle and East Texas,” Mike Bradley, Regency president and CEO, said of the Eagle Rock deal.

In 2013, Regency's revenues climbed 88% to $2.5 billion.

Farthest Falls

Murphy Oil Corp. (IW 500/190) (MUR)

2014 rank: 190             

2013 rank: 45

Change: (145)

Murphy Oil took the biggest dive on the IW U.S. 500, plummeting 145 spots down the list.

However, the Arkansas-based oil exploration and production company's fall was not the result of a financial hardship. In fact, the company recorded its second consecutive year of record production in 2013, a feat it is on track to repeat in 2014, according to President and CEO Roger W. Jenkins, who took the reins of the company in late 2013.

Rather Murphy Oil spun off its U.S. retail marketing business, creating an independent company, Murphy USA Inc. Excluding the Murphy USA business from the balance sheet, Murphy Oil's earnings in 2013 actually increased 17% from the previous year.

"We expect another year of strong production growth in 2014 with continued increases coming from the Eagle Ford Shale, a full year of production from our new Malaysia developments, and the start up of the Dalmatian field in the Gulf of Mexico," Jenkins said.

Newfield Exploration Co. (IW 500/410) (NFX)

2014 rank: 410

2013 rank: 317

Change: (93)

Texas-based Newfield's decision to focus on North American operations, strangely enough, caused the crude oil and natural gas exploration and production company to fall 93 spots on the list.

That's because in February 2013 Newfield put its businesses in Malaysia and China up for sale, in effect moving the revenues from those operations off of its balance sheet. For that reason, the company's revenue decreased 30%.

The good news for Newfield, however, is that in comparing its continuing operations – those in North America – revenues last year climbed 32%, driven by higher liquids production and commodity prices.

"Our focus today is very clear – profitably grow our oil and liquids production in our key U.S. operating areas," said Lee K. Boothby, Chairman, Newfield President and CEO.

The company this February closed on the $898 million sale of its Malaysia business, but has yet to offload its China business.

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