Each year Bloomberg Businessweek selects from the S&P 500 its top 50 companies based on past performance and analysts’ future expectations.  This year in the number-one position is Actavis.  By sales, Actavis is now the fourth-largest generic drug manufacturer.  It did this in part by expanding its footprint from a mostly domestic one to a global one.  The company anticipates overseas generic sales will eventually account for about half its revenue stream.

The number-two slot goes to  As an online sales-force automation service, the company concentrates on just eight countries, but with client companies of all sizes.  That strategy has produced a steady growth.  Lately, is strongly promoting its marketing services.  Instead of doing that via its own R&D, the company is using strategic acquisitions.  The current CEO, Marc Benioff, explains (John Tozzi, “BBW Fifty” Bloomberg Businessweek 2/18/13–2/24/13, pp. 37–44):

When we talk to our large customers, they are spending huge amounts in marketing—in some cases, 10 to 20 times what they spend on IT.  So it’s a very exciting time in marketing.  We spent approximately $1 billion in the last three years on acquisitions in the marketing area.  We want to build a strong marketing product line but mostly through acquisition.  We can go faster by buying.” (p. 40)

That is always the strategic question:  Do we do this by ourselves or do we strategically acquire others?  Benioff is obviously taking the acquisition route.

Some of the more interesting but not surprising companies that earned a spot are (4), Apple (9), Time Warner Cable (11), Comcast (15), Home Depot (23), Starbucks (25), Pentair (31), Whole Foods (38), Lowe’s (39), Covidien (41), Snap-on (45), and Cerner (50).

As always, it will be fascinating to watch each of these companies in 2013.  Inevitably, some will lose their place on the BBW 50 and some will retain it.  That is the challenge of business now isn’t it?

About James Meadows

Currently I serve as a training team manager for Johnson Controls at a customer-care center in Kansas City. Additionally, I am a business consultant, a freelance corporate writer, an Assembly of God ordained minister, a Civil Air Patrol chaplain, and a blogger. I believe we are living in the most fascinating times of human history. To maximize the opportunities these times present, I have a passionate interest in leadership development and organizational success, both of which I view as inextricably linked.

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