By Adrian Paul B. Conoza, Special Features Writer
STATISTICS are not merely numbers. At BusinessWorld, the country’s leading business daily, statistics provide further insights into economic trends and conditions, making them a vital content of the paper.
BusinessWorld diligently fulfills the rigorous task of gathering data and interpreting them in light of the business scene. One of the ways in which the paper does this is through the BusinessWorld Top 1000 Corporations in the Philippines magazine, which has been tracking the movement of the Philippine corporate sector for more than three decades.
Leo Jaymar G. Uy, head of BusinessWorld’s research department, said that aside from ranking the country’s biggest firms by their latest annual gross revenues, the Top 1000 also provides financial information about these firms. “These include balance sheet (assets, liabilities, equity) and income statement items (revenue, expenditures, net income/loss); as well as financial ratios such as returns on equity and assets, total asset turnover, profit margin, and debt-to-equity ratio, among others,” Mr. Uy said.
Filing the Top 1000 list is a result of a rigorous methodology BusinessWorld undertakes. “We are not only looking at how much gross revenue a company generates. That’s the easy part,” Mr. Uy explained. “The challenging part is identifying based on our guide which items in one’s financial statement make up a firm’s income from primary sources or other income, which items count as short-term and long-term assets, liabilities, and equity, et cetera. And we do this in a matter of a few months. Imagine doing the same thing to 1000+ companies.”
The Top 1000 also lists corporations who entered or re-entered the list as well as those who were taken off the list. It compares companies according to their respective industries through its “How Competitors Compare” table. It also highlights upward and downward movers, top profit makers, and top loss makers.
In addition, the magazine has tabular rankings of government-owned and controlled corporations, exporters, multinationals, and listed companies. It also has a separate ranking of conglomerates “based on consolidated financial statements.”
Furthermore, the Top 1000 discusses the country’s economic condition through sectoral snapshots and feature stories, putting context into the main tables of the annual report.
All these components, compiled in one comprehensive volume, make Top 1000 a highly regarded publication that the industry looks forward to every year.
“Similar to how a financial statement is used to evaluate a firm’s financial health and earnings performance, the Top 1000 looks at how the Philippine corporate sector performed during the latest fiscal year,” Mr. Uy said. “This is important as the Top 1000 can be used as a proxy for the country’s corporate sector, something to which readers might appreciate.”
The latest Top 1000 Corporations in the Philippines, the 32nd volume, presented strong earnings as economic growth remains sustained. According to Mr. Uy, “the narrative for growth is still intact as the Top 1000 firms’ 11.7% gross revenue growth and 6.4% net income growth in 2017 compared to that of the overall economy’s 9.2% showing in 2017 based on current prices.”
“To recall, the Philippine economy expanded by 6.7% based on constant 2000 prices, above the low end of the government’s 6.5-7.5% target range for 2017,” he added.
Another trend observed in the recent Top 1000, according to the research head, is the positive association of economic growth with the corporate sector’s earnings growth.
“In fact, when we compare the historical gross domestic product (GDP) growth using current prices with gross revenues from the Top 1000 from 1987 to 2017, it shows a moderate positive correlation with a coefficient of 0.61 (a coefficient of one denotes perfect positive correlation),” Mr. Uy added.
The recent editions of Top 1000 have witnessed the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) ranking first for three consecutive years. The power distributor has taken the top spot since the 30th volume of the Top 1000 back in 2016.
Meanwhile, the magazine’s 2018 edition showed Meralco earning P275.42 billion in gross revenue in 2017, 9.9% higher from 2016’s earnings, while accumulating P271.9 billion in net sales, 10.5% higher from the previous earnings. Its net income, however, decreased by 1.6% to P20.24 billion.
Meralco’s controlling stakeholder, Beacon Electric Asset Holdings, Inc., is partly owned by PLDT, Inc. Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls.
Petron Corp. also remained in secnd place for the third time. It recently earned P274.31 billion in gross revenue, up by 18.8%; P271.12 billion in net sales, increasing by 20.1%; and P8.95 billion in net income, up by 57.1%.
The third to 10th placers are as follows: Toyota Motor Philippines Corp. with P175.15 billion in gross revenue; Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. with P171.69 billion; TI (Philippines), Inc. with P150.82 billion; Toshiba Information Equipment (Philippines), Inc. with P134.88 billion; Philippines Airlines, Inc. with P133.16 billion; Mercury Drug Corp. with P132.73 billion; BDO Unibank, Inc. with P127.42 billion; and Nestlé Philippines, Inc. with P125.98 billion.
Mr. Uy pointed to a confluence of several factors causing the outstanding performance of the top 10, such as companies riding on macroeconomic performance, their dominant market power relative to their respective industries, and the demand of their goods and services.
For this year’s edition, Mr. Uy said Top 1000 readers can expect the same level of effort and dedication that BusinessWorld has put into producing the magazine year after year. “Hopefully, readers will still find the information in the publication useful and enjoyable,” he said.