Apple may be ahead of the class when it comes to innovative product ideas, but they were well down the list of Barron’s 500 report card, published by the Wall Street Journal . The report lists the 500 publicly held companies with the largest revenues. The list is intended to give investors some idea of how their companies fared this year. Apple is on the list, but just barely.
Barron’s issues the report card just like a student’s: with an A, B, C, D and F rating and grade point average (GPA) to determine overall class ranking. Barron’s uses four separate “grades” to determine a company’s performance — its share performance relative to the Standard & Poor’s 500, HOLT’s median cash flow return on investment (CFROI) for the past three years; the forecast change in CFROI for this year; and last year’s sales as a basis for measuring how the company grew the top line. Rankings were then determined by GPA, and ties were settled by change in CFROI.
Electronics retail giant Best Buy was this year’s valedictorian — the company scored A’s and B’s across the board, with an overall 3.75 GPA. The Barron’s 500 salutatorian was managed health care provider AdvancePCS, with a GPA of 3.50.
Others in the top ten included food maker Kellogg’s, auto parts retailer AutoZone, and Johnson & Johnson. In fact, numbers 2 through 12 on the list all came in ranked at 3.50.
Alas, our favorite computer maker is near the bottom of the list — ranked at number 473. Apple’s S&P return grade was C, while its three-year CFROI grade was D. Barron’s gave the company F’s for its CFROI grade change and its sales growth grade, resulting in a meager GPA of 0.75. If there’s an upside, it’s that Apple did better than other PC manufacturers like Hewlett-Packard (476), Compaq (497) and Gateway (491). Even technology bellwether Microsoft was stuck in the middle at 212, while Dell Computer pulled in a mediocre 394 ranking.