A study just released by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) says that managers can most effectively increase shareholder value by improving the company's cash-flow margin, improving the productivity of the company's assets, or growing investments. The study, The Value Creators: A Study of the World's Top Performers, suggests that managers can improve cash-flow margins by better cost-management or pricing strategy. They also can improve asset productivity by deploying resources more efficiently -- for example, by improving inventory management or using fixed assets more effectively. In addition, they can focus on growth in investment by transferring core competencies to new businesses or expanding into new markets, effectively creating new assets. BCG's study measured total shareholder returns (TSR) of more than 5,300 companies, which together account for some 80% of the total capitalization of the world's stock markets, from the end of 1993 to the end of 1998. Dell Computer Corp. was the leader in shareholder return, with an average annual TSR of 153%. In second place was America Online with 143%. SAP AG was third with a 91% average.