The financial year 2010-2011 has been of steady growth and consolidation where the private sector has cautiously expanded and ventured into new sectors during the second year of post war Sri Lanka. Though many have taken a prudent path of growth, stability and innovation, there are those who have taken ‘that’ extra step to take their businesses and in retrospect Sri Lanka to the next level. The Business Today TOP TWENTY ranking for the year 2010-2011 reflects the dynamism and competitiveness of corporate Sri Lanka. It sets apart the giants who have made their presence felt.
Sri Lanka registered a growth rate of eight percent in 2010, which reflected a fast recovery from the setback suffered in 2009 and move to a high and sustainable growth path. All key sectors of the economy demonstrated a commendable performance in 2010, underpinned by the peaceful domestic environment, improved investor confidence and favourable macroeconomic conditions. Furthermore, prudent financial policies and regulations have ensured that though global turmoil was felt to a certain extent, the shock itself was not transmitted too widely in the economy. While growth has cooled in Asian economies and the US and Europe face debt crisis, Sri Lanka has recorded a 8.2 percent growth during the second half of 2011, thereby demonstrating the resilience of the economy.
In relation to the private sector, the Government has taken several initiatives such as lowering interest rates, strengthening banking and non-banking financial institutions, reforming the tax system and incentives to spur investment. Identifying and removing barriers to investment has also been given high priority. The private sector has been expected to invest particularly in tourism, IT/BPO, skills development, urban development, agriculture and manufacturing sectors. Though investment by the private sector has been seen in many areas especially in the tourism industry, a sense that corporates can do much more prevails.
With further relaxations in foreign exchange controls and the 2011 Budget providing much needed revisions the enabling environment has been created and economic opportunities are more diverse. As reflected in the Business Today TOP TWENTY the leaders of corporate Sri Lanka have grown stronger, while new entrants into the business arena is encouraging. Acquisitions, mergers, building on existing businesses and emergence of new businesses as well as diversification has been a key feature during the past year.
Furthermore the 2010-2011 year saw many companies going public with their initial public offering being over subscribed in most instances during the first day of trading. An influx of investors to the Colombo Stock Exchange was seen at unprecedented levels where rapid returns were sought on the back of rising share prices. This is a clear indication of the confidence in the economy.
The Business Today TOP TWENTY is strictly based on published financial information of companies listed on the Colombo Stock Exchange. Established financial criteria used for the selection are; Sales Turnover, Growth in Sales Turnover, Profit, Growth in Profit, Return on Equity, Growth in Earnings per Share, Market Capitalisation, Value of Shares Transacted and Value Addition.
Ensuring that all business and industry sectors are equitably represented, the weights are assigned to the criteria after due consideration of their significance. Weights are applied uniformly without prejudice and are not disclosed due to proprietary reasons.
The past performance of companies both in Sri Lanka and abroad have shown that Turnover alone is not a clear indicator of performance as those who may have incessant Turnover in most instances may not be making profit nor have clear management of the company. As such Business Today in its ranking of the TOP TWENTY companies of corporate Sri Lanka takes special consideration of Profit. Furthermore, Value Addition has been given prominence as it represents the contribution by the company in terms of benefits to the Government, shareholders and employees. Companies that had a Share Turnover of over one billion rupees, Revenue of over eight billion rupees and a Profit after Tax of over 500 million rupees were identified for the final ranking.
Another aspect that was strictly looked at was whether companies were conforming with financial and accounting best practices as such those that had qualified accounts were disqualified from the selection process.
The Business Today TOP TWENTY essentially represents the echelon of corporate Sri Lanka. Since its inception in 1998 the ranking shows a clear trend; the leaders of the private sector have been able to secure a position – though this may vary from year to year – which represents their stability and steady growth over the years. With the end of the conflict the availability of new opportunities has given the much required encouragement to entrepreneurs and young businesses, the ranking indicates that these will pose a clear challenge to the market leaders. This year we see dormant companies finally awakening, time will tell whether they will be able to compete in the current competitive market.
Comparison of the total points scored between 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 show a clear increase in the points secured by each company. This reflects the magnitude of increase of each segment of the criteria. However, last year the TOP TWENTY were selected by applying the weights to the first ten companies whereas this year the weights have been applied to the first twenty companies, which may have contributed to the increase in the value of the points of individual companies. Nevertheless, Sri Lankan conglomerates are expanding, banks are stable and the telecommunication sector as well as services and retail are on the path of unimpeded growth, and this is clearly reflected in the ranking.
Biggest does not necessarily mean the best nor does it guarantee longevity, however prudent strategies, sustainable innovations and good governance will be key to sustained growth while creating necessary and healthy competition. While monopolistic behaviour has been seen in the past, with the entrance of new players both from abroad and within Sri Lanka, a change in the business landscape can be expected in the near future, whether it will be a reality will depend on the performance of the companies.
Business Today wishes to congratulate the TOP TWENTY companies that have been ranked for the financial year 2010-2011 and state its appreciation and admiration for their resilience and contribution to the Sri Lankan economy.
The Business Today TOP TWENTY companies have been selected on the basis of their financial performance during the financial year ending December 31, 2010 and March 31, 2011 with the assistance of KPMG Ford Rhodes, Thornton & Co.