Tracking The Stars

When we created the Business Week 50 in 1997, we set out to devise a ranking that measures corporate performance in the smartest possible way. We wanted to go well beyond other lists based on total revenues or market capitalization. So we rewarded growth and consistency by looking at both one-year and three-year results, and we leveled the playing field by adjusting for sales volume.

Our purpose was twofold. First, we wanted to provide a useful management tool for our readers. By identifying the top-performing companies and figuring out how they made it to the head of the class, we could provide executives in every industry with important benchmarks. Second, we believed that a performance-oriented top 50 would provide a valuable investment tool that might help our readers identify companies that consistently deliver the goods.

The Business Week 50 has been a huge success on both counts. The companies that have made it to this elite status have led the way in the remarkable boom propelled by globalization and technology. The stocks of the Business Week 50 have consistently outperformed the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index, the universe from which the 50 are selected and the standard for most U.S. money managers. (S&P, like Business Week, is a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies.)

Based on this success, we are taking the concept a step further, beginning this week. Our new Business Week 50 index will track the stocks of the year's top-performing 50 companies. We will also index our IT 100 companies.

You will be able to follow the results each issue in Figures of the Week. And, with the assistance of Bridge Information Systems, we will feature the index on a continuously updated basis on our on the Business Week Investor area of our Web site, The Web site will also provide profiles and updates on the 50 companies, performance histories of past winners, historical analysis of how our index would have performed under different market conditions over the past 25 years, plus much more.

Whether you're keeping an eye on your competition or trying to pump some life into your investment portfolio, we believe this site will be an invaluable source. The best place to start is with this year's Business Week 50 package of stories. The top companies have been tested in the crucible of the market and consistently delivered above-average returns. They are the cream of Corporate America, and we think you will profit from learning more about them.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.