That swoosh you hear isn't LeBron James gliding over defenders for a slam dunk. Rather, it's Nike Inc. riding the backs of such superstars as James and Tiger Woods on to the 2009 IW 50 Best Manufacturing Companies list. Nike is among several newcomers to the IW 50 list that include such household names as Kellogg Co. and Philip Morris International Inc.
Nike, the athletic footwear and apparel maker known for paying big bucks for athletes to sponsor its brands, realized revenue growth of 14% in 2008 and a 26% profit increase to $1.9 billion. Nike's footwear revenue increased slightly because of a small increase in shoe prices and unit sales, driven by higher demand for its Jordan brand shoes.
Kellogg, known for cereal and snack brands such as Frosted Flakes, Rice Krispies and Keebler cookies, posted annual revenue of $12.8 billion, up from $11.8 billion in 2007, though profit rose less than 1%. Philip Morris International enters the IW 50 with revenue up 15.5% to $63.6 billion and a profit increase of 14% to $6.9 billion. Altria Group spun off the maker of tobacco products, including the popular Marlboro brand, in March 2008.
Other companies making their debut on the IW 50 include Rockwell Automation Inc., Joy Global Inc., Calumet Specialty Product Partners L.P., Alliant Techsystems Inc., Precision Castparts Corp., Foster Wheeler Ltd., CF Industries Holdings Inc., Knoll Inc. and Harris Corp.
Making a return to the list after a one-year hiatus is United States Steel Corp., which boosted its revenue nearly 41% and saw its profit more than double on record steel prices during the first half of 2008.
Just as in previous years, the IW 50 is dominated by oil producers and refiners, including Big Oil firms Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Sunoco and Marathon Oil, all mainstays on the IW 50. Some of the other returning companies include Apple Inc., Colgate-Palmolive Co., Nucor Corp. and PepsiCo Inc.
See the complete 2009 IW 50 Best Manufacturing Companies list.