In crisis lies opportunity. That's the theme of this year's FSB 100, the sixth annual ranking of the fastest-growing small public companies in America. While drivers curse $3-a-gallon gas and military families watch footage of Iraq and Afghanistan on the evening news with prayers for safety, nimble small businesses stepped in with solutions-and profited accordingly. In these troubling times, some of the fastest-growing businesses are finding profit in conflict. The FSB 100 list appears in the July/August issue of fortune small business and is available at FSB.com.
Topping the FSB 100 is LCA-Vision, based in Cincinnati. It provides laser vision correction under the LasikPlus brand. Last year it performed 142,000 procedures- up 48% from 2004. At No. 2 is Goodrich Petroleum (Houston), which searches and drills for oil and gas in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas and recently tripled its capital investments. No. 3 Palomar Medical Technologies (Burlington, MA), develops and manufactures lasers for noninvasive cosmetic procedures, such as acne reduction and hair removal; and is now creating lasers for home use. At No. 4 is Edge Petroleum (Houston), an exploration and production company. Higher prices and greater volume propelled natural-gas revenues and production by 86% last year and oil revenues increased 103%. Laserscope (San Jose), at No. 5 has more than 8,000 of their lasers in doctors' offices and hospitals worldwide. Its newest laser treats prostate enlargement.
Across industry lines, at least a dozen FSB 100 companies do some business with the government, most with military products or technology. Oil and natural gas firms represented 13 of the 100 companies (up from nine in 2005), including eight of the top 25. Another safe bet for this year's list is health care. Aging boomers alone have made health care an ongoing mainstay of the FSB 100, with 19 companies making the list this year.
Last year's No. 1 company, Taser, failed to make the list in 2006. While homeland security remains a spending priority, questions regarding the safety of Taser's product and the ensuing negative publicity caused revenues to drop by nearly 30% and earnings by more than 90%. Its stock opened 2005 at nearly $30 a share, but had fallen to $9.27 by June.
California tops the list of states with the most companies on the FORTUNE Small Business 100 with 18, followed by Texas with 12, New York with eight, and New Jersey with seven.
To compile the sixth annual list, FORTUNE Small Business asked financial research firm Zacks to rank public companies with revenues less than $200 million and a stock price of more than $1, based on their percentage growth in earnings, revenue, and stock performance over the past three years. Banks and real estate firms were excluded.