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Study: Less Than 10% Of Companies Are Growing Profitably

Compiled By Deborah Austin During the past decade's economic boom, 90% of all companies failed to reach even modest sustained growth rates, thus failing to meet shareholders' expectations. So says a new study by global strategy consulting firm Bain & Co., Boston. According to Bain, few companies have achieved "sustained value creator" (SVC) status, defined as maintaining at least a 5.5% average yearly inflation-adjusted growth rate in both earnings and revenue over 10 years. Also, the total value of an SVC company's stock had to exceed what an investor could have earned by putting the same money in long-term government bonds. Bain & Co. said 85% of SVC firms shared one common focus: They concentrated on their well-defined core business rather than "the next new thing." The study is summarized in a new book, Profit From The Core: Growth Strategies in an Era of Turbulence (2001, Harvard Business School Press). Author Chris Zook, Bain & Co. worldwide strategy director, describes a converging "perfect storm" of economic forces impacting businesses: higher expectations entering a downturn than ever before, greater penalties for shortfall, and low and declining probabilities of sustained profitable growth.

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