Take a guess first. Which technology companies are the top performers worldwide? Google (GOOG) would certainly get some votes. Apple (AAPL) anyone? Maybe you think Research In Motion (RIMM) is leading the way.
At BusinessWeek, we don't leave this exercise to guesswork. Each year, with the help of Standard & Poor's Compustat, we comb through the financial results for tens of thousands of publicly traded businesses to find those that have done the best over the past year. We rank companies on four criteria: shareholder return, return on equity, total revenues, and revenue growth. Those with the best aggregate ranking go to the top of the list.
Amazon.com (AMZN) landed at No. 1 for the third consecutive year. The online retailer has been shining despite the economic downturn and slump in consumer spending. Software giant Oracle (ORCL) came in at No. 2, while IBM (IBM) ranked fifth. That underscores one trend this year: 43 U.S. companies made the list this year, up from 33 last year.
It was a rough year for stocks overall. But many of the companies here stood out because of their strong stock market performance. Amazon's stock rose 2% over the past year in spite of the market rout. Netflix (NFLX), Tencent, and BYD all gave shareholders a return of more than 30% over the last year. Historically, the top-ranked companies on the Info Tech 100 have often gone on to shine in terms of stock market performance. The list highlights many little-known up-and-comers, including Taiwan's Inventec, South Africa's Dimension Data Holdings, and France's Iliad.