Full Speed Ahead

Dec. 21, 2004
IndustryWeek spotlights eight elite manufacturers navigating a profitable course in stormy times.

With the stock markets bumping along and talk of a double-dip recession filling the airwaves, IndustryWeek thought it would be a good time to look at a few of the U.S. companies that have managed to charge ahead in spite of the economic doldrums. Of the largest publicly traded manufacturers identified in IndustryWeek's U.S. 500, roughly two out of five reported revenue growth of at least 45% from 1997 to 2001. Because real business success isn't defined by growth for the sake of growth -- but rather by profitable growth -- IW further limited its focus to firms that grew profits 15% last year and maintained profit margins of 5% or more over the past four years. This yielded 10 top-performing companies. Further analysis of these companies' most recent financial numbers whittled the total to an elite group of eight. With annual sales ranging from $1.2 billion to $33 billion, these high fliers manufacture consumer products, motor vehicles, metal parts, gaming equipment, software and pharmaceuticals. Forest Laboratories Inc., New York -- Since IndustryWeek first compiled the financial figures upon which the selections are based, Forest Laboratories has posted more recent results that continue its upward growth trend. Annual revenues grew 25% to $1.6 billion for the year ended March 31, 2002, and the company reported record revenues and earnings for its first quarter ending in June. Almost 70% of the pharmaceutical company's sales are from Celexa, an antidepressant. From a strategy perspective, Forest Laboratories relies on reported strengths in drug development and sales and marketing. It partners with smaller firms or foreign companies, guiding their inventions to market through the U.S. regulatory process. Major upcoming releases in the company's pipeline include a new antidepressant, a drug that delays symptoms of Alzheimer's disease and several treatments for hypertension. Harley-Davidson Inc., Milwaukee -- "We fulfill dreams through the experience of motorcycling," Harley-Davidson's mission statement begins. Judging by the financial track record of this widely admired company, those must be some pretty powerful -- can you hear that trademarked exhaust rumbling? -- dreams. Over the past four years revenues doubled to $3.5 billion, profit margins held steady between 10% and 12%, and in 2001 the company reported its 16th consecutive year of record earnings. And like a band of riders on their way to the annual rally in Sturgis, S.D., the positive numbers just keep on coming: Production climbed 15% to 234,461 motorcycles in 2001; retail sales rose 14% in the United States and 11% in Japan; general merchandise sales increased 8% to $163 million; and income from financial services -- loans and insurance -- jumped 65% to $61 million. In celebration of the company's 100th anniversary in 2003, Harley-Davidson has launched a line of specially styled motorcycles that should fuel record growth for 2002 and 2003. To meet the anticipated demand, the company has already added two months to its standard 12-month model year. International Game Technology, Reno, Nev. -- Unlike its manufacturing brethren, when the economy goes south the folks from IGT could well be shouting, "Jackpot!" The company makes traditional spinning reel and video slot machines, progressively linked gaming devices, as well as casino management software. When state politicians start looking for ways to make up for budget shortfalls, legalized gambling is an appealing solution. In 1989 the company reports that its business was limited to Nevada, Atlantic City, New Jersey and Montana. Since then 13 states have legalized some level of gambling, and more are likely to head down this trail. IGT recorded $1.2 billion in sales for its fiscal year ending September 2001. For its most recent quarter ended June 29, 2002, the company reported record operating profit and net income, selling 13,700 machines during the period, and 46,700 year-to-date versus 43,300 in the prior year. Johnson & Johnson, New Brunswick, N.J. -- Johnson & Johnson was incorporated in the mid-1880s when medical practitioners were just beginning to understand the importance of sterilization. After introducing new medicinal plasters, the company developed an antiseptic and absorbent cotton surgical dressing that could be mass produced and shipped to hospitals anywhere. Today, J&J has grown into a worldwide conglomerate of 198 companies, employing 106,000 people who make and sell health-care products in more than 175 countries. Citing strong performance of its medical devices and diagnostics businesses, as well as international pharmaceutical and domestic consumer businesses, the company posted record sales of $9.1 billion in the second quarter of 2002. For the most recent fiscal year, J&J chalked up sales of $33 billion (10.6% higher than the previous year) and reported net earnings of $5.7 billion. Increasing its focus on innovation, the company invested $3.6 billion in research and development in 2001, almost 16% more than in the prior year, and expects R&D spending to exceed $4 billion in 2002. Pfizer Inc., New York -- The giant pharmaceutical firm hasn't missed a beat in the down economy. Pfizer's revenues increased 10% to $32.3 billion in 2001, net income more than doubled to $7.8 billion, and financial results through the second quarter of 2002 were equally rosy. The company markets eight of the world's 30 best-selling drugs, which include Lipitor, Norvasc, Celebrex, Zoloft, Neurontin, Viagra, Zithromax and Zyrtec. Combined, these medicines pulled in revenues of $10.3 billion through the first half of 2002, up 15% over the same period in the previous year. Through 2006 Pfizer expects to file 15 major new drug applications. In the face of these innovations, at the company's annual shareholder meeting in April, Chairman and CEO Hank McKinnell noted that Pfizer remains strictly conservative in its accounting procedures and corporate governance. "We are building value the old-fashioned way, with products and services that add real value, and with the long-term view squarely in sight," he said. The company is also building value through acquisition. The planned merger of Pfizer and Pharmacia Corp. will create a new company with a projected $12 billion in earnings and $48 billion in revenues for 2002. Precision Castparts Corp., Portland, Oreg. -- For the sixth consecutive year Precision Castparts (PCC) set a record with total sales of $2.6 billion in fiscal 2002, up 10% over the previous year. Focused on high-tech applications in an old-line industry, the company manufactures large, complex structural investment castings, airfoil castings and forged components used in jet aircraft engines. One of PCC's high-growth areas is industrial gas turbines. Entering this business in the mid-1990s, the company has secured 30% of the market and expects that percentage to exceed 50% in 2003. Current challenges include declining demand from jet-engine manufacturers, a trend that's expected to continue through next year. A steady spares market and some growth in military sectors are offsetting the downturn in commercial aviation. The company's Wyman-Gordon subsidiary has been selected to manufacture 16 structural titanium forgings for the new Lockheed Martin joint strike fighter. Siebel Systems Inc., San Mateo, Calif. -- Tom Siebel was IndustryWeek's 2002 CEO of the Year for a very good reason. Last fiscal year the company he founded broke the $2 billion revenue barrier by a cool $48 million, which came only one year after posting revenues in excess of $1 billion for the first time. Siebel conceived and developed the customer relationship management (CRM) software category and built it into a highly profitable business. Siebel Systems reportedly uses its own software to drive operational excellence, relying on it to predict and manage revenue, maintain customer intimacy, and act as an early warning system for shifts in market demand. When these indicators pointed to a drastic decline in IT spending at the beginning of 2001, Siebel used its software to rebudget the entire company and reset the objectives of every department and the individual goals of 7,500 employees -- all within 30 days. SunGard Data Systems Inc., Wayne, Pa. -- As an IT supplier to financial organizations, many of SunGard's customers were directly impacted by the events of Sept. 11. Indeed, the company's information availability ("disaster recovery") operations responded to 121 declared emergencies and eventually returned all of its customers to normal operations. With annual revenues of $1.93 billion (up 16% over 2000), today SunGard serves more than 20,000 clients in over 50 countries, including 47 of the world's 50 largest financial-service firms. The most recent year-end results continue an unbroken record of growth dating back to 1983, the year the organization became an independent company. With the close of a recent acquisition the company now maintains more than 3 million square feet of secure data center space across 75 facilities in 10 countries. Offering a glimpse of its business strategy, the company focuses on establishing multiyear, long-term partnerships with customers. As a consequence, recurring revenue accounts for 89% of the company's total annual revenue. U.S. GROWTH LEADERS -- IW U.S. 500

Rank Company Revenues (US$ Millions)
19 Johnson & Johnson, New Brunswick, N.J. $33,004
20 Pfizer Inc., New York $32,259
183 Harley-Davidson Inc., Milwaukee $3,363
254 Precision Castparts Corp., Portland, Oreg. $2,557
273 Siebel Systems Inc., San Mateo, Calif. $2,048
286 SunGard Data Systems Inc., Wayne, Pa. $1,929
411 International Game Technology, Reno, Nev. $1,199
419 Forest Laboratories Inc., New York $1,601
Growth leaders criteria: at least 45% revenue growth over the past four fiscal years (1997-2001), 15% profit growth last year (2001), 5% profit margin over the past four fiscal years (1997-2001) and a continuing growth record in 2002. [Note: This list contains the most recent year-end financials (as of August 2002). Some are more recent than in the IW500 database.] IW U.S. 500 RANKING METHODOLOGYIndustryWeek partnered with Thomson Financial to produce IW's first-ever ranking of the United State's largest publicly held manufacturing companies. Thomson Financial's databases were used to identify all publicly held manufacturing firms meeting IndustryWeek's SIC-code criteria. The final list was based on financial data available in mid-May to coincide with the IW 1000, IndustryWeek's list of the 1,000 largest manufacturers worldwide. The cut-off figure for inclusion on the IW U.S. 500 was $918 million in revenues. Thomson Financial's financial data was supplemented with Internet-based research. Erik L. Fine, a Charlotte, N.C.-based information consultant, managed the data collection and verification phases of this project. As with IndustryWeek's list of the world's 1,000 largest manufacturers, companies included in the IW U.S. 500 were defined according to a strict criteria. They include: firms 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 last year's list; computer software companies whose primary business is the manufacture of software programs; oil and gas companies that derive approximately 50% of their revenues from the refining of oil and gas products; and companies that derive approximately 50% of their revenues from the manufacture of mined materials. Because all publicly held manufacturing companies were eligible, a number of subsidiaries or associate companies that are publicly traded separately from their parent company made the list along with the parent. The financial data elements are based on information obtained directly from publications distributed by the corporations. To more accurately reflect the companies' core business, only revenue numbers from continuing operations were used. Where 2001 data are not available, 2000 data are provided. An asterisk next to the company name on the list indicates that 2000 data were used. Where 2000 figures are given, revenue growth is for 1999-2000. An "NA" appears in cases where data were not available. Due to the changing nature of executive leadership, certain executive names listed in the database may not be as up-to-date as the financial figures.

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