The leader isn't late. It's the others who have arrived too soon. This assurance goes to the readers who await this special issue of Business Today every year. With many publications already out with their versions of annual company listings, some of you may rightly be wondering why BT is late with this annual compendium of corporate India. After all, we are the pioneers, having started BT 500 as early as 1992. And if we are late, what different-and, perhaps, better- insights do we offer?
Any corporate listing is actually a beauty contest in which a host of companies are paraded before the readers. What distinguishes one contest from the other is the nature and number of criteria used to choose the 'contesting' companies. Should the companies be ranked on sales? Or should it be assets? Why not profitability? Return on investment? For BT, the catch-all measure of performance has been the market value of a company, its market capitalisation. The assumption for using market value as the first and foremost among all other factors is simple: the stock market takes all the attributes of a company's performance (current and future) into account while pricing its share. Though the price of a stock in a day or week or even a month may move way beyond what the company fundamentals justify, over the long run, the average price of a stock reflects its fundamentals.
Of course, our evaluation does not stop at valuation. We analyse-and rank-companies on sales, profit, profitability (measured in more ways than one), efficiency of capital use and returns on investment. Between pages 94 and 140, you will find proof of this. Regular readers of BT 500 will notice new and expanded sets of data. We have also changed the format and design of the tables to aid easier and better understanding. Like always, we have used this wealth of data to present some industry-based feature stories. But the information and interpretative value of BT 500 goes way beyond the scope of the magazine's pages. So, while we are not the first to come out with this annual listing, we are, hopefully, the best and also the most updated (second quarter results have been incorporated). That's not to say we can't be both the best and the first in future.
In times when the global economic debate is focussed on the size and shape of government bailouts, it's interesting and instructive to check what kind of bailout-if any-the Government of India has in store. Apparently, what is holding us back is not what's holding the rest of the world back-availability of funds. Turn to page 56 to know more.