Whole Foods, Others Make Forbes' 'Platinum 400' List

NEW YORK -- Whole Foods Market, Weis Markets, Smart & Final, and Ruddick, the parent company of Harris Teeter, all made Forbes' latest list, America's Best Big Companies. Officially known as the "Forbes Platinum 400," the list is a "good place to look for potential stock market stars," according to Forbes' editors.

Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods fared the best among food markets, at No. 47. This is the seventh year that the natural and organic foods retailer has made the list. Its annual sales growth is 21.6 percent, while its profitability, or return on capital, is 10.9 percent for the latest 12 months, according to Forbes. Sales for the latest 12 months were $4.7 billion. Profit margin for the latest 12 months is 2.9 percent.

Ruddick Corp., the parent company of southeastern chain Harris Teeter, came in at No. 262. Its profitability for the latest 12 months is 9.1 percent, while sales growth is 3.3 percent. Sales for the latest 12 months are $2.9 billion. Profit margin is 2.3 percent.

Non-membership warehouse grocery provider Smart & Final, based in Commerce, Calif., is No. 285 on Forbes' list. This is its first year on the list. With annual sales of $2 billion, the company's annual sales growth rate is 4.6 percent. Its profitability for the latest 12 months is 4.6 percent. Its profit margin is 0.8 percent.

Sunbury, Pa.-based regional retailer Weis Markets came in at No. 321, but its performance is equally as impressive. Profitability for the latest 12 months is 10.4 percent, while sales growth is 3.7 percent. The chain is currently bringing in $2.2 billion in annual sales. Its profit margin is 2.8 percent.

Forbes said its rigorous selection process for the Platinum 400 begins with its requirement that companies must have revenue of at least $1 billion. That cutoff yields over 1,000 U.S. corporations as well as foreign companies that have substantial operations in the U.S. The editors then screen out companies with stock prices under $5 per share or with negative book value. Statisticians also disqualify companies from Platinum 400 consideration if they have been public for less than two years.

Forbes ranked candidate companies for financial performance against their industry peers in one of 26 industry groups over the latest five years and most recent 12 months. The ranking items include sales and earnings growth, stock market returns, and debt to total capital. The editors also ranked companies on their consensus forecasts for long-term earnings growth. Once they had ranks for all these individual metrics, they tabulated a composite rank and score for each company.
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