Since its launch nine years ago, the IW 1000 has reflected the fundamental reality of a world economy, that manufacturers' toughest competitors are not next door or down the street, but in Europe, Asia and South America, in addition to the United States. The only ranking that matters is how companies stack up on the global playing field. Opportunities are not confined to a single country or region either. The world's largest manufacturers leverage supranational networks of production and distribution as well as business alliances and joint ventures to market and deliver products and services to customers wherever they might be located around the globe. Tracking expenses, sales, and the flow of cash through the various business units of a single organization can be a tortuous task, just ask the accountants for any of these multi-billion-dollar companies. Especially the people at Royal Dutch/Shell (No. 2), Lennox International (No. 674) Goodyear Tire & Rubber (No. 175), and Flowserve (No. 843), where accounting problems delayed filing financial reports on schedule. On an international basis, what qualifies as revenues isn't so straightforward. The confusion starts even before different reporting standards are taken into consideration. What is reported as "sales" or "revenues" by U.S.-based companies, may be described as "turnover," "total income," "total results" or "total performance" in the financial reports filed in other countries. But whatever it's labeled, for a manufacturer this figure will typically include income that can be attributed to the delivery of goods and services to customers. In compiling the IW1000 rankings, we did not include any gains that go directly to retained earnings, income effects of accounting changes, extraordinary income, or any income relating to discontinued operations. Sorting all of this out for the 1,000-plus companies from the 46 countries that we considered would have been an impossible task without the assistance and resources of Mergent Inc. Located in New York and Charlotte, N.C., Mergent acquired the Financial Information Services division of Moody's Investors Service in 1998. The organization has been collecting and delivering financial information for over 100 years. Mergent's global databases were used to identify all publicly held manufacturing firms meeting IndustryWeek's industry selection criteria. The actual cutoff for inclusion on the 2004 IW 1000 list was just over $1.79 billion in revenues. Under the direction of John Pedernales and lead by Ricardo Angel, with the assistance of Jason Horvat, Melissa Magann, Jennifer Weidlich and Jeff Zazzaro, Mergent obtained the latest financial information on these manufacturing companies. Public relations and editorial consultant Glenn Hasek supplemented this process with substantial additional research. Erik L. Fine, a Charlotte, N.C.-based information consultant, managed the overall data collection effort. The IW1000 includes:
- Manufacturing companies with a majority of their business in a manufacturing industry.
- Companies that generated less than 50% of revenues from manufacturing, but more revenue from manufacturing than the lowest-revenue-producing companies on this year's list.
- Computer software companies whose primary business is the manufacture of software programs.
- Oil and gas companies that derive at least 50% of their revenues from the refining of oil and gas products.
- Companies that derive at least 50% of their revenues from the manufacture of mined materials.