Apple (AAPL) Lands Second Place in Barron’s 500 List

Barron’s just published its Barron’s 500 list, an annual ranking of top American companies (including Canadian co’s) that have done the best job of growing their businesses.

This year’s top-ranked company, CF Industries Holdings, Inc. (CF), the largest nitrogen producer in North America and the second-largest in the world, falls firmly in the first place. The Deerfield, Illinois-based co. saw its revenue jump 54% last year, to (ttm) $6.45 billion, and EPS spiked more than 300% to $21.98 y/y. Quarterly rev growth came in at 30.10% y/y.

Tech names are well represented in this year’s list, according to Barron’s, with technology giant Apple (AAPL) landing at No. 2. The company’s $142 billion revenue and $53 billion cash flow soared in the past few years on the strength of its iPhones and iPads. Now Apple has decided to share the wealth with investors by paying its first dividend in 17 years ($2.65 a share, starting July 1) and buy back $10 billion in stock.

Other tech companies high on the Barron’s 500 – 2012 list include QUALCOMM Inc. (QCOM), EMC Corporation (EMC) and International Business Machines Corp. (IBM).

The ranking was prepared by Credit Suisse’s HOLT model. The firm’s  top secret proprietary valuation model, that seeks to identify companies with superior financial performance, is based on three equally weighted metrics: “sales growth in the latest fiscal year, adjusted for divestitures; median three-year return on investment, based on a cash-flow calculation the firm calls CFROI, and the change in CFROI in the latest fiscal year relative to the three-year median.”

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