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The IW 50: Diversity Marks 2013 High Performers

July 16, 2013
Apple extends its reign atop the IW 50 Best U.S. Manufacturers chart for the second year in a row. Perhaps a more compelling story in this year's IW 50 is the double-digit dashes up the chart by seven companies from a mixed bag of sectors.

Apple Inc. has extended its reign atop IndustryWeek's IW 50 Best U.S. Manufacturers chart for the second year in a row. 

The omnipresent tech giant -- maker of the iPhone, iPad, iMac, and on and on -- dominated with Top 10 finishes in five of the six financial-performance categories that factor into the IW 50 ranking. That includes a No. 1 finish in inventory turn rate, for which Apple (IW 500/4) scored a whopping 112.12, more than tripling the No. 2-ranked company in that category, Oracle Corp. (IW 500/36).

See Also: IndustryWeek’s 50 Best U.S. Manufacturers

Perhaps a more compelling story in this year's IW 50 is the double-digit dashes up the chart by seven companies from a mixed bag of sectors, coupled with the double-digit drops suffered by two tobacco makers.

Industrial automation manufacturer Rockwell Automation Inc. (IW 500/165) was this year's biggest gainer, moving up 27 slots from No. 49 in last year's IW 50 ranking to No. 22 this year. Rockwell, which makes automation products such as motor starters, contactors, relays, timers, signaling devices and variable-speed drives, was the top-ranking company in its industry sector, Electrical Equipment & Appliances. Rockwell did well in all six of the financial indexes that factor into the ranking, scoring highest in return on equity, for which it ranked No. 16.

Machinery Makers Move Up

Following on the heels of Rockwell's big jump, three machinery makers notched the second-, third- and fourth-biggest moves up the IW 50 chart this year.

Earth-mover parts maker Sauer-Danfoss Inc. (IW 500/383) vaulted 23 slots, from No. 31 last year to No. 8 this year. Sauer-Danfoss, the top-ranked company from the Machinery sector, makes hydraulic, electronic, and mechanical systems and components.

Lawn mower kingpin Toro Co. (IW 500/378) leapt 22 places, from No. 46 to No. 24, and finished as the No. 3-ranked company in the Machinery sector. In addition to mowers, Toro makes irrigation equipment, trimmers, lighting, utility vehicles and snow blowers. Its brands include Rain Master, Exmark, Odyssey, Irritrol, Lawn Genie and Lawn-Boy.

Industrial filtration system maker Donaldson Co. (IW 500/324) climbed 21 rungs, from No. 39 to No. 18, and finished as the No. 2-ranked machinery maker in the list. Donaldson, which has 39 manufacturing plants in 43 countries, makes products designed to remove contaminants from air and liquids.

Computer hard drive manufacturer Western Digital Corp. (IW 500/96) rose 19 places on this year's chart, landing at No. 14. Western Digital had topped the IW 50 in 2011, then plunged to No. 33 last year. The Irvine, Calif.-based company makes data storage drives. Personal-computer drives account for most of Western Digital's sales.

Oil refiner HollyFrontier Corp. (IW 500/59) rose 17 spots in this year's IW 50 ranking, from No. 20 last year all the way up to No. 3. HollyFrontier, the highest-ranked company in the Petroleum & Coal Products sector, scored well in five of the six IW 50 financial categories, finishing highest in revenue growth at No. 4. HollyFrontier refines crude oil to produce gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.

Check printer Deluxe Corp. (IW 500/436) checks in at No. 10 in this year's IW 50, a 14-spot climb from last year's No. 24 finish. Deluxe, the top-ranked company in the Publishing & Printing sector, finished in the top 10 in inventory turnover and return on equity. Among Deluxe's products are checks, forms, marketing material and address labels for small businesses, as well as designer checks for consumers.

Tobacco Makers Drop

The two double-digit drops in this year's IW 50 chart were sustained by tobacco manufacturers, a result at least partly attributable to the industry's ongoing legal battles with the Justice Department and with consumers suffering smoking-related health problems.

The ubiquitous Philip Morris International Inc. (IW 500/15), maker of seven of the world's top 15 tobacco brands -- Marlboro, L&M, Chesterfield, Parliament, et al. -- fell 25 places, from No. 4 to No. 29.

And Lorillard Inc. (IW 500/161), the third-biggest tobacco manufacturer in the United States and maker of Newport, Kent, Old Gold and True cigarettes, dropped 19 spots, from No. 6 to No. 25.

Seventeen companies that weren't on last year's IW 50 list made this year's cut. The top three finishers in that group include a pair of oil refiners, CVR Energy Inc. (IW 500/122) at No. 13 and Delek U.S. Holdings Inc. (IW 500/118) at No. 16; and footwear maker Crocs Inc. (IW 500/499) at No. 23.

Find IndustryWeek's complete IW 50 Best U.S. Manufacturers ranking at

IndustryWeek compiles the IW 50 Best U.S. Manufacturers ranking from the companies on its annual IW 500 list of the largest manufacturers in the United States. The IW 50 is based on six financial-performance metrics -- profit margin, sales turnover, inventory turnover, revenue growth, return on assets, and return on equity -- measured over a three-year period. The most recent year -- fiscal 2012 -- accounts for 50% of the calculation; fiscal 2011 is weighted at 30%; and fiscal 2010 at 20%.

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