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2001 BW 50



Editor's Memo
The BusinessWeek 50 helps you make investment decisions by crunching nine criteria into a picture of dynamic performance

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Coming out of a year when corporate profits cratered, when company after company restated earnings, and when much of the froth was wrung out of the market, our sixth BusinessWeek 50 rankings of the best-performing companies in the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index set the bar very high. The companies we present in our 2002 Special Issue reflect a retreat of the tech set and a resurgence of consumer-oriented companies ranging from food to health care. This year's BW50 companies steer clear of fads and focus on what they do best, from No.1 Johnson & Johnson (JNJ ), last seen on the BW50 in 1997, to No.40 Merck (MRK ), the only company to have appeared in every ranking since we started them.

Our ranking helps you make important investment decisions by distinguishing what works from what doesn't. We measure dynamic performance by nine different criteria--and we continue to fine-tune our analysis. Realizing that it is much more difficult for the largest companies to post big percentage gains, we have given more weight this year to absolute sales. And most important, we are not ranking five companies in the S&P 500 because of significant accounting questions.

With this issue, we also present "Investing for Growth," our inaugural editorial collaboration with USA Today. It is the first of what we expect will be many joint special projects on a range of personal finance topics. "Investing for Growth" will also appear in USA Today's Money Section on Apr. 3. Here's to the beginning of a great relationship.

And whither tech? Even though this year's BW50 includes only three tech companies, BusinessWeek's technology seers say, don't despair. Customer management software and security software are strong. And the promise of digital entertainment is sparking many new products. We devote an entire section to the tech outlook, assessing everything from nanotechnology and defense to biotech and the burgeoning market for information technology in health care. Want to find companies that are likely to be in future BW50s? Here's the place.

The 2002 BusinessWeek 50 Special Issue is the work of more than 50 reporters and editors, led by Assistant Managing Editor Joyce Barnathan, Senior Editors Mary Kuntz, Kathy Rebello, Neil Gross, and Jeffrey M. Laderman, Associate Editor Dan Beucke, and Corporations Editor Robert McNatt. Frederick F. Jespersen crunched the numbers, and Steve Taylor oversaw the splendid design.

"This was the year that beer, bath towels, and Band-Aids became cool again," the opening article says. We expect you will find lots to contemplate, and great companies, from the New Economy and the Old.

MARCH 25, 2002

By Stephen B. Shepard

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