Apple Reclaims No. 1 in Best Manufacturers Ranking

July 11, 2016
The Cupertino, Calif.-based company rides a huge revenue increase to take the top spot.

Apple Inc. (IW500/2) wrested the top spot from Polaris Industries Inc. (IW500/201) in the annual IndustryWeek 50 Best U.S. Manufacturers, IW's exclusive annual ranking of America's top-performing public manufacturers.

Apple's return to No. 1 came primarily on the strength of big revenue growth of 27.86%, up from 6.95% the year earlier, while Polaris' revenue growth plunged to 5.35%, from 18.60%.

As well Apple inked increases in profit margin (22.85%, from 21.61%), return on assets (23.03%, from 19.09%), return on equity (47.87% from 31.82%) and inventory turns (62.82, from 57.94), while Polaris' results on each of those metrics slightly dropped: Profit margin fell to 9.65% from 10.14%; ROA, to 21.95% from 26.94%; ROE to 52.05% from 83.46%; and inventory turns to 5.30 from 6.43. Polaris topped Apple only in ROE, 52.05% to 47.87%.

The list is based on a formula applied to the IndustryWeek U.S. 500, IW's exclusive annual ranking of America's largest public manufacturers, based on revenue. The calculations measure three years each of six metrics, with the recent years weighted more heavily. The six metrics include revenue growth, profit margin, return on assets, return on equity, sales turnover and inventory turnover.

The biggest mover, Skyworks Solutions Inc. (IW500/273), jumped from No. 45 to No. 9 with big moves in revenue growth, profit margin, ROA and ROE. Last year was the first in the Top 50 for the maker of high performance analog semiconductors for wireless connectivity and IoT solutions.

The next biggest move was made by Wabash National Corp. (IW500/381), maker of semi-trailers and liquid transportation systems. The Lafayette, Ind.-based company debuted at No. 46 last year and jumped to No. 24.

Another big mover, Thor Industries Inc. (IW500/229), made the leap to No. 5 from 20 in this, its fourth straight year on the list. The recreational vehicle manufacturer had an earlier run on the list, from 2005 to 2008, when it ranked between No. 30 and 37.

Rounding out the group of companies with nice-sized jumps are tobacco firm Altria Group Inc. (IW500/44), which improved to No. 16, from No. 32; integrated circuits maker Linear Technology Corp. (IW500/455), to No. 32 from No. 47; and Lockheed Martin Corp. (IW500/25), to No. 31 from No. 44. All three companies debuted on the IW U.S. 50 Best Manufacturers ranking last year.

About the Author

Patricia Panchak | Patricia Panchak, Former Editor-in-Chief

Focus: Competitiveness & Public Policy

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In her commentary and reporting for IndustryWeek, Editor-in-Chief Patricia Panchak covers world-class manufacturing industry strategies, best practices and public policy issues that affect manufacturers’ competitiveness. She delivers news and analysis—and reports the trends--in tax, trade and labor policy; federal, state and local government agencies and programs; and judicial, executive and legislative actions. As well, she shares case studies about how manufacturing executives can capitalize on the latest best practices to cut costs, boost productivity and increase profits.

As editor, she directs the strategic development of all IW editorial products, including the magazine,, research and information products, and executive conferences.

An award-winning editor, Panchak received the 2004 Jesse H. Neal Business Journalism Award for Signed Commentary and helped her staff earn the 2004 Neal Award for Subject-Related Series. She also has earned the American Business Media’s Midwest Award for Editorial Courage and Integrity.

Patricia holds bachelor’s degrees in Journalism and English from Bowling Green State University and a master’s degree in Journalism from Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. She lives in Cleveland Hts., Ohio, with her family.  

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