Top 100 Small Businesses

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"Fortune" and "Forbes" rank publicly traded companies only.
"Fortune" and "Forbes" rank publicly traded companies only. (Image: 100 image by Gonçalo Carreira from Fotolia.com)

Several business publications provide annual rankings of companies using different criteria. "Forbes" magazine's list of the “100 Best Small Companies in America” ranks companies based on earnings growth, sales growth and return on equity in the past 12 months and over five years. For its “100 Fastest-Growing Companies” list, "Fortune" ranks companies based on their three-year annual earnings per share and profit growth rates.

Health Care

Ranked by “Fortune” as two of the top health care services companies in 2010, HMS Holdings and Thoratec had three-year annual sales growth of 32 and 23 percent, respectively. HMS Holdings provides health care insurance fraud detection and pharmacy audit services to state and federal agencies. Thoratec manufactures heart pumps and other circulatory support devices for advanced heart disease patients.

Medifast and WebMD were the top two health care companies in the 2010 “Forbes” list, with five-year annual sales growth of 41 and 28 percent, respectively. Medifast sells weight management and health management products. WebMD is an online news and information portal for several health and medical subjects, including mental health and pet health.

Financial Services

"Fortune" ranked Life Partners Holdings and Credit Acceptance as two of the top financial services companies in 2010. They had three-year annual sales growth of 59 and 22 percent, respectively. Life Partners Holdings is in the life settlements business. It buys life insurance policies from those willing to cash out early and sells them to other investors. Credit Acceptance approves auto loans for everybody, including customers with poor credit histories.

"Forbes" ranked FactSet Research Systems and Portfolio Recovery Associates among the top financial services firms in 2010. Their five-year annual sales growth was about 20 percent each. FactSet provides aggregated financial information on public companies, including financial reports and edited conference call transcripts. Portfolio Recovery Associates manages the collection of unpaid debt obligations, such as loans and credit card bills.

Technology

Ranked by “Fortune” as two of the top technology businesses in 2010, Ebix and Pegasystems had three-year annual sales growth of 51 percent and 28 percent, respectively. Ebix provides consulting and outsourcing services to insurance industry clients. Pegasystems provides business process management and customer relationship management software for large organizations, such as Aetna and Allstate.

InterDigital placed number two overall on the 2010 "Forbes" list with a five-year annual sales growth of 17 percent. It develops wireless technologies for mobile devices, networks and communications services.

Education Services

"Fortune" ranked Lincoln Educational Services as the top educational services business in 2010, with a three-year annual sales growth of 22 percent. Lincoln offers recent high school graduates and working adults degree and diploma programs in several areas, including automotive technology and hospitality services.

Ranked third overall on the 2010 “Forbes” list, with a five-year annual sales growth of 49 percent, American Public Education provides online post-secondary education services for military and public service communities.

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