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America’s 15 Fastest Growing Companies

Thomas C. Frohlich and Evan Comen

For board members and investors alike, revenue growth is one of the easiest ways to evaluate the long-term health of large publicly traded companies.

That growth can be very difficult to predict. Companies can attempt to ensure growth through diversification and risk management. There are many forces entirely outside of the control of corporate governance, however, such as changing commodity prices or an unanticipated shift in a market.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed the most recent three-year annual revenue changes of S&P 500 companies. Based on its 252.3% revenue growth in the last three years, Facebook is America’s fastest growing company. Netflix rounds out the list with a three-year revenue growth of 87.8%.

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Advancements in computer processing power, data storage capacity, Internet access, and other technological developments have helped fuel rapid growth in the U.S. tech sector in recent years. This partially explains the strong representation of Internet companies among America’s fastest growing companies. Facebook, Skyworks Solutions, Micron Technology, TripAdvisor, and Netflix all rank among the fastest growing U.S. companies -- for some, revenue more than doubled over the last three years.

Four of the nation’s fastest growing companies -- Biogen, Alexion, Regeneron, and Gilead -- are pharmaceutical companies. The development, testing, approval, and manufacture of many drugs is extremely lengthy and expensive. Despite these massive investments, sometimes the drug never reaches the market. In other cases, a single drug can account for a huge portion of a company’s revenue and growth.

Notably, Alexion produces Soliris, a treatment for the rare and life-threatening blood disease paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria. The drug costs approximately $400,000 a year per patient and is widely regarded as the most expensive in the world.

With historically low interest rates and stable job growth in recent years, the U.S. housing market continues to recover from the depths of the recession. The average 30-year conventional mortgage rate has remained under 5% over the last five years. As of August, the rate was 3.4%, well below the pre-recession levels of close to 7% and considerably lower than the historical peak of 18.5% in 1981.

The housing recovery largely accounts for the triple-digit growth over the last three years of homebuilding companies DR Horton and Lennar Corporation, in fourth and fifth place respectively. While the growth is certainly encouraging for the housing and construction sectors, the two homebuilders are the only companies on this list for which revenue is still below where it was 10 years prior.

To identify the fastest growing companies, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the most recent three-year annual revenue changes of S&P 500 companies. All annual revenue figures were obtained from a Capital IQ screen accessed on September 30 2016. All other information came from financial documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. To ensure that the growth of these companies is at least mostly organic, we excluded companies whose growth or revenue decline was likely due to large scale merger and acquisition activity. Such was the case for Dollar Tree and Allergan, for example. The revenue of each roughly doubled in the last three years due largely to a single acquisition. Similarly, Arthur J Gallagher & Co. was excluded because a significant portion of its growth came from numerous recent acquisitions.

These are America’s fastest growing companies.

15. Netflix (NFLX)
> 3-yr. revenue chg.: 87.8%
> Latest annual revenue: $6.8 billion

Internet television network Netflix is one of America’s fastest growing companies. In its most recent fiscal year, the company reported revenue of $6.8 billion, up from $3.6 billion in 2012 -- an 87.8% growth. More than 75 million Netflix users in 190 countries consume approximately 125 million hours of TV shows and movies daily. Netflix’s stock price rose to over $100 last summer, where it has remained roughly unchanged since.

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The company’s 2015 annual profit of $122.6 million was down from $266.8 the year before. Netflix attributes the decline to increased costs from its investments in both overseas expansion and continued original content productions.

14. Illumina (ILMN)
> 3-yr. revenue chg.: 93.3%
> Latest annual revenue: $2.2 billion

Research outfit Illumina is known as one of the world’s largest genomic sequencing companies. In its most recent fiscal year, sales of Illumina’s proprietary technologies and instruments accounted for 27% of total revenue. Sales of consumables -- materials and compounds the company sells mostly for use in DNA sequencing -- accounted for 58%.

Illumina does not make drugs. However, the company works closely with pharmaceutical companies, which are well represented among America’s fastest growing companies. Like drugmakers, Illumina’s financial performance is partially dependent on the success of its research as well as whether the Food and Drug Administration approves certain products.

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13. Biogen (BIIB)
> 3-yr. revenue chg.: 95.2%
> Latest annual revenue: $10.8 billion

Biotechnology company Biogen Inc. nearly doubled its revenue in the last three years, from $5.5 billion in fiscal 2013 to $10.8 billion in revenue in fiscal 2016. The company, which started in 1978, has since grown through a series of drug developments and corporate acquisitions to become one of the most profitable businesses in biotech. Biogen reported $3.5 billion in profit in fiscal 2015, up from $2.9 billion in fiscal 2014.

While much of Biogen’s revenue growth was organic, some share of its expansion was also the result of acquisition. The company acquired Convergence Pharmaceuticals for $675 million in 2015. Convergence increased Biogen’s portfolio of pain drugs.

12. TripAdvisor (TRIP)
> 3-yr. revenue chg.: 95.5%
> Latest annual revenue: $1.5 billion

Founded in 2000, TripAdvisor has since grown to become one of the largest travel websites today. In the last three years, the company's revenue soared from $763.0 million in fiscal 2012 to $1.5 billion in fiscal 2015, a 95.5% growth. TripAdvisor offers user-generated reviews of more than 6 million businesses worldwide and an instant booking feature, which the company introduced last year, that allows users to book hotels through the website. With the new feature, TripAdvisor can also compete with online travel agencies such as Priceline and Expedia. While TripAdvisor has grown 95.5% in the last three years, Priceline and Expedia have grown 75.3% and 65.6%, respectively.

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Some of the company’s recent revenue growth has been inorganic. In 2013 and 2014, the TripAdvisor acquired more than a dozen companies.

11. Micron Technology (MU)
> 3-yr. revenue chg.: 96.6%
> Latest annual revenue: $16.2 billion

Micron Technology's revenue has grown by 96.6% over the last three years, from $8.2 billion in fiscal year 2013 to $16.2 in fiscal 2016. That year, Micron Technology posted $2.9 billion in profits. Much of the company’s growth is due to increased demand for its flagship product, dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chips. The company also benefitted from an increase in the price of DRAM. While Micron Technology's growth was largely organic, the company has also completed several acquisitions in recent years. Micron’s growth has also been the result of a number of recent acquisitions. In 2015, Micron Technologies acquired Tidal Systems, Convey Computer, and Pico Computing.

10. Skyworks Solutions (SWKS)
> 3-yr. revenue chg.: 107.7%
> Latest annual revenue: $3.3 billion

Semiconductor manufacturer Skyworks Solutions, Inc. has more than doubled its revenue in the last three years -- from $1.6 billion in fiscal year 2012 to $3.3 billion in fiscal 2016. Skyworks manufactures radio frequency chips for many of the most popular smartphones on the market, including the Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy. About 75% of its revenue comes from its mobile device business. As smartphone technology, Internet access, data storage capacity, and other technological developments continue to advance, Skyworks may continue to grow.

9. Michael Kors (KORS)
> 3-yr. revenue chg.: 116.0%
> Latest annual revenue: $4.7 billion

Like every company on this list, luxury apparel retailer Michael Kors has more than doubled in size since 2014. The company reported revenue of $4.7 billion for the 12-month period through April 2016, an increase of 116% from its fiscal 2014 revenue of $2.1 billion.

While the holding company’s stock price has dipped since its peak of just under $100 in February, it has consistently outperformed the S&P 500 index since 2012.

8. Under Armour (UA)
> 3-yr. revenue chg.: 116.0%
> Latest annual revenue: $4.0 billion

Sports clothing maker Under Armour is one of several apparel outfitters among the fastest-growing companies. Under Armour’s remarkable growth over the last three years is likely tied to the increasing popularity of athletic gear in the United States.

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American football in particular has grown in popularity consistently for decades. About one-third Americans favor pro football over any other sport -- and by a wide margin. This has been the case since 1985. cent Harris Poll,about one third of Americans favor pro football over any other sport. As was the case as early as 1985, the sport is America’s favorite by a wide margin. Under Armour supplies footwear and gloves to the NFL.

7. Salesforce (CRM)
> 3-yr. revenue chg.: 118.6%
> Latest annual revenue: $6.7 billion

Unlike most fast-growing companies, salesforce.com lost $47.4 million in its latest fiscal year and $262.7 million the year before. The cloud-computing software company attributes the losses to its aggressive growth plan, in particular its hiring and acquisition activities. With revenue up in each of the last three years, and by 118.6% from its fiscal 2012, the company can certainly afford its large investments.

Salesforce.com vied ealier this year to acquire the professional social network LinkedIn, which would have been yet another investment. Instead, Microsoft made the deal, acquiring LinkedIn for $26.2 billion.

6. Alexion Pharmaceuticals (ALXN)
> 3-yr. revenue chg.: 129.6%
> Latest annual revenue: $2.6 billion

Drug companies may spend millions of dollars over many years to test a product that never reaches the market. At least in recent years, this has not been the case with drug maker Alexion, which has reported meteoric growth in recent years. Alexion produces Soliris, a treatment for the rare blood disease paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria. The drug costs approximately $400,000 a year per patient and is widely regarded as the most expensive in the world.

Alexion reported revenue of just $1.6 million in 2007, the year it patented Soliris. In its latest fiscal year, Alexion’s reported revenue of $2.6 billion, many thousand times its 2007 revenue and an astronomical growth even when compared to other S&P 500 growth companies. While sales of Soliris largely explain the company’s gains, some of its recent growth has been inorganic and can be attributed to its 2015 acquisition of Synageva.

5. Lennar Corporation (LEN)
> 3-yr. revenue chg.: 130.8%
> Latest annual revenue: $9.5 billion

As the U.S. housing market continues to recover from the depths of the financial crisis, home builder Lennar Corporation has posted massive revenue gains. The company's revenue of $9.5 billion over the 12 months through November 2015 -- its latest fiscal year -- was up by 130.8% from $4.1 billion in fiscal 2012. According to the company, the revenue increase was due primarily to a 15% increase in the number of home deliveries and to a 12% increase in the average sales price of homes delivered.

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4. DR Horton (DHI)
> 3-yr. revenue chg.: 148.6%
> Latest annual revenue: $10.8 billion

DR Horton is one of the largest homebuilding companies in the nation, and like many other construction companies, it has continued to grow since the U.S. housing market bottom in 2009. After four years of plunging revenue, DR Horton reported revenue growth in 2010 and in each of the years since. The company’s revenue is still down from 10 years ago. Among the nation’s fastest growing companies, this is also true only of Lennar Corporation, another homebuilding company.

3. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (REGN)
> 3-yr. revenue chg.: 197.7%
> Latest annual revenue: $4.1 billion

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals’ revenue tripled in the three years since 2012 -- from $1.4 billion to $4.1 billion. The testing, and approval process of drugs is usually lengthy and very expensive. The return on investment, however, can be enormous. Several such drugs largely account for Regeneron’s impressive growth. Approved by the FDA in March 2015, eye disease medication Eylea, for example, is one of the major drivers of Regeneron’s sales growth of 54% in 2015, according to the company. Eylea is one of just a small number of Regeneron drugs currently on the market.

2. Gilead Sciences (GILD)
> 3-yr. revenue chg.: 236.4%
> Latest annual revenue: $32.6 billion

Gilead Sciences is one of several rapidly growing pharmaceutical companies. The Foster City, California, company produces drugs for a variety of conditions with a focus on HIV and hepatitis. The company reported substantial revenue growth in recent years. Gilead’s revenue rose from $8.3 billion five years ago to $24.9 billion in fiscal 2014 to $32.7 billion in fiscal 2015. Reflecting the massive growth, shares of Gilead are up by about 300% in the last five years.

1. Facebook (FB)
> 3-yr. revenue chg.: 252.3%
> Latest annual revenue: $17.9 billion

Based on its 252.3% revenue growth over the last three years, the world’s largest social network, Facebook, is America’s fastest growing company. The company’s 2015-over-2014 revenue growth of 44% is also among the highest of any U.S. company. As of December 2015, more than 1 billion people around the world used Facebook daily, up 17% from the same time in 2014. About 90% of these users accessed the site via a mobile device, up 25% from the year before.

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Facebook generates almost all of its revenue from selling advertising space. According to the company, the revenue gains are due to growth in mobile use, particularly from users in India, Brazil, and the United States.

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