Countdown: Fortune's Top 20 Fastest-Growing Companies

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Countdown: Fortune's Top 20 Fastest-Growing Companies
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Countdown: Fortune's Top 20 Fastest-Growing Companies

3-year average
Revenue Growth: 25%
Profit Growth: 89%
Total Return: 57%

If you want to find a job in China, registering with 51job.com should probably be on your to-do list. It’s the largest recruitment website in China with more than 56 million registered accounts. 51job started as a print advertising outfit, but that publication -- which is circulated nationwide -- is in the process of being discontinued as the online business has exploded. Last year the print advertising segment of the business took in $33 million – roughly half what it was worth in 2009. On the flip side, online recruitment services generated revenues of $127.5 million in 2011 and now anchors the company’s growth strategy. The company now also offers HR services as it seeks to capitalize on its existing customer base. HR-related revenues came to $57 million last year, and the company believes they will play an increasingly important role in the future. -- N.S.

Get stock quote: JOBS
Revenue ($ millions):
$224
Net Income ($ millions): $65
Industry: Specialty Retailers: Other

BY L. MICHAEL CACACE, DOUGLAS G. ELAM, ERIKA FRY, KATHLEEN SMYTH, AND NIAMH SWEENEY

See the full list: Fortune's 100 Fastest-Growing

3-year average
Revenue Growth: 41%
Profit Growth: 53%
Total Return: 45%

This investment outfit is doing something right. Epoch managed to quadruple net income over the past three years as investors poured into the firm, which now oversees more than $23 billion in assets. That figure has more than doubled since the end of 2010. So what’s Epoch's secret? The company says it has a “distinct perspective on the long-term drivers of shareholder return”. Specifically, its investment managers believe that earnings growth and dividends drive shareholder returns, so they concentrate on companies that are growing free cash flow “and allocating it intelligently.” So far so good. -- N.S.

Get stock quote: EPHC
Revenue ($ millions):
$85
Net Income ($ millions): $22
Industry: Internet Services and Retailing

BY L. MICHAEL CACACE, DOUGLAS G. ELAM, ERIKA FRY, KATHLEEN SMYTH, AND NIAMH SWEENEY

See the full list: Fortune's 100 Fastest-Growing

3-year average
Revenue Growth: 42%
Profit Growth: 87%
Total Return: 27%

Moving up an impressive 58 spots from where it first entered the Fastest-Growing list last year, this underwriter of annuities has posted record sales every year for the past three years. Last year’s sales exceeded $5 billion, while net income doubled to $86.2 million. And the key to American Equity's success? A growing demand for guaranteed retirement income products. The company offers a mix of pension plans that protect the principal sum invested and enjoy tax deferred growth. -- N.S.

Get stock quote: AEL
Revenue ($ millions):
$1,287
Net Income ($ millions): $65
Industry: Diversified Financials

BY L. MICHAEL CACACE, DOUGLAS G. ELAM, ERIKA FRY, KATHLEEN SMYTH, AND NIAMH SWEENEY


See the full list: Fortune's 100 Fastest-Growing

3-year average
Revenue Growth: 43%
Profit Growth: 34%
Total Return: 69%

This biopharmaceutical company is focused on treating two severe and ultra-rare disorders. Its lead product, Soliris, is the only drug approved for patients with an extremely rare and life-threatening blood disease referred to as PNH (paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria). Alexion reported $274 million worth of second-quarter sales of Soliris, up 48% from the same period last year. The company credited the growth to increasing numbers of patients being treated with the drug globally. It follows Soliris's approval in the U.S. and European Union late last year as the first and only treatment for patients with an ultra-rare genetic disease known as Atypical Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (aHUS). -- N.S.

Get stock quote: ALXN
Revenue ($ millions):
$862
Net Income ($ millions): $194
Industry: Pharmaceuticals

BY L. MICHAEL CACACE, DOUGLAS G. ELAM, ERIKA FRY, KATHLEEN SMYTH, AND NIAMH SWEENEY


See the full list: Fortune's 100 Fastest-Growing

3-year average
Revenue Growth: 57%
Profit Growth: 187%
Total Return: 9%

Among the most successful of the for-profit colleges, Bridgepoint Education’s revenues soared to $933 million, up from $85 million, in the five years prior to 2011. The company attributes its phenomenal growth to the number of students enrolling for online courses. Last year Bridgepoint had 85,527 online students along with an additional 1,115 based at its Ashford University and University of the Rockies campuses. The company now has over 2,000 so-called “admissions counselors” who work the phones to get students to sign up. However, Bridgepoint’s stock plunged more than 50% in July when the Western Association of Schools and Colleges denied accreditation to Ashford College for its failure to comply with certain standards. The company has since re-applied for accreditation but announced in August that it would suspend, until further notice, its practice of providing full-year financial guidance “due to reduced visibility arising from recent regulatory developments.” -- N.S.

Get stock quote: BPI
Revenue ($ millions):
$954
Net Income ($ millions): $152
Industry: Education

BY L. MICHAEL CACACE, DOUGLAS G. ELAM, ERIKA FRY, KATHLEEN SMYTH, AND NIAMH SWEENEY


See the full list: Fortune's 100 Fastest-Growing

3-year average
Revenue Growth: 43%
Profit Growth: 74%
Total Return: 37%

What’s in a name? Originally named for its change-counting machines, 85% of Coinstar’s revenue now comes from its Redbox DVD-rental kiosks. Even as consumers switch to video-streaming services like Netflix, the video-rental business is still worth more than $5 billion -- of which Coinstar boasts a 42% market share. The company has been rolling out additional self-service kiosks (“automated retail solutions” in Coinstar-speak) all over the country as struggling video-rental stores have closed. Revenue rose by 39% and 29% in 2010 and 2011, respectively, primarily due to new kiosk installations and existing kiosk sales growth in the Redbox segment. -- N.S.

Get stock quote: CSTR
Revenue ($ millions):
$1,989
Net Income ($ millions): $149
Industry: Specialty Retailers: other

BY L. MICHAEL CACACE, DOUGLAS G. ELAM, ERIKA FRY, KATHLEEN SMYTH, AND NIAMH SWEENEY


See the full list: Fortune's 100 Fastest-Growing

3-year average
Revenue Growth: 33%
Profit Growth: 66%
Total Return: 81%

Is it possible that William Shatner may soon be recognized by more people for his role as the Priceline Negotiator than as Captain Kirk? That may well be the case if things continue as they have been for the online travel company, whose advertising campaign he has become the face of. (Shatner's character proved so popular that the company brought him back from the dead in August, after an 8-month absence from the brand's advertising.) Priceline allows you to "Name Your Own Price" for hotel rooms while also offering deep discounts on flights, rental cars, cruises and more. Bookings have increased by at least 50% every year for the past two years with last year’s increase driven by a 52.6% hike in hotel room reservations and increased international activity. Priceline’s net income doubled to over $1 billion in 2011. -- N.S.

Get stock quote: PCLN
Revenue ($ millions):
$4,584
Net Income ($ millions): $1,134
Industry: Financial Data Services

BY L. MICHAEL CACACE, DOUGLAS G. ELAM, ERIKA FRY, KATHLEEN SMYTH, AND NIAMH SWEENEY


See the full list: Fortune's 100 Fastest-Growing

3-year average
Revenue Growth: 43%
Profit Growth: 85%
Total Return: 40%

Of all the companies to make it onto this year’s Fastest-Growing list, Impax Labs has likely produced the most volatile results. Over the past five years, net income has fluctuated significantly from as low as $16 million in 2006 and 2008 to as high as $250 million in 2010, and several points in between. The self-described “technology-based speciality pharmaceutical company” specializes in “controlled-release” generic versions of brand-name drugs. Among its biggest sellers are migraine-treating drug Zomig, and Adderall XR, which is used to treat attention deficit disorder. In 2010, net income sky-rocketed 400%. Impax put this down to a one-time accounting benefit, along with increased sales of several key products. Last year profits came crashing down 74%, however, as global sales declined across the board and supply disruptions affected Adderall XR. -- N.S.

Get stock quote: IPXL
Revenue ($ millions):
$533
Net Income ($ millions): $64
Industry: Pharmaceuticals

BY L. MICHAEL CACACE, DOUGLAS G. ELAM, ERIKA FRY, KATHLEEN SMYTH, AND NIAMH SWEENEY


See the full list: Fortune's 100 Fastest-Growing

3-year average
Revenue Growth: 26%
Profit Growth: 272%
Total Return: 112%

Also known as additive manufacturing, 3D printing fabricates parts by “printing” them whole from digital data, one wafer-thin layer at a time. To date, the technology has mainly been used as a cost-effective way to create models and design prototypes. Increasingly, however, 3D printing is moving onto the factory floor with major manufacturers from auto parts makers to energy companies hoping they will soon be able to create a vast array of parts, equipment and machinery on demand, where and when they need them. 3D Systems says it has seen increased demand for its printers across several industries, as the technology “promises to revolutionize manufacturing.” Last year the company recorded a 242% increase in the number of units sold. Revenue -- generated by the sale of printers and related print materials and services -- increased 44%. -- N.S.

Get stock quote: DDD
Revenue ($ millions):
$260
Net Income ($ millions): $35
Industry: Computer Software

BY L. MICHAEL CACACE, DOUGLAS G. ELAM, ERIKA FRY, KATHLEEN SMYTH, AND NIAMH SWEENEY


See the full list: Fortune's 100 Fastest-Growing

3-year average
Revenue Growth: 72%
Profit Growth: 52%
Total Return: 98%

Formerly SXC Health Solutions (and last year’s top dog on the Fastest-Growing list), this pharmacy benefits manager (PBM) completed its merger with rival Catalyst Health Solutions in July with a cash and stock deal worth over $4 billion. The combined company is now the fourth largest PBM in the US, serving about 25 million members. The additional revenues that will result from the Catalyst deal have not yet been reflected in the newly-created Catamaran’s numbers but the company expects to generate combined annual revenues of around $13 billion. For the first six months of this year, SXC Health revenues came in at $3.3 billion – up 48% year-on-year. PBMs help their clients -- such as unions, third-party health care plan administrators, state and federal government entities -- to manage the cost of their prescription drug programs by leveraging their buying power to secure price discounts. -- N.S.

Get stock quote: CTRX
Revenue ($ millions):
$5,595
Net Income ($ millions): $100
Industry: Internet Services and Retailing

BY L. MICHAEL CACACE, DOUGLAS G. ELAM, ERIKA FRY, KATHLEEN SMYTH, AND NIAMH SWEENEY


See the full list: Fortune's 100 Fastest-Growing

3-year average
Revenue Growth: 38%
Profit Growth: 121%
Total Return: 50%

Energy companies have been pushing production to the max over the past 18 months so they can capitalize on rising oil prices. But, in most cases, they can’t do it alone. RPC provides a range of oilfield services and equipment to major companies engaged in the exploration, production and development of oil and gas sites. Last year the company expanded its fleet of revenue-producing equipment which, along with a general increase in overall activity, helped to propel revenues 65%. Net income more than doubled in 2011 to almost $300 million. -- N.S.

Get stock quote: RES
Revenue ($ millions):
$1,931
Net Income ($ millions): $312
Industry: Oil and Gas Equipment, Services

BY L. MICHAEL CACACE, DOUGLAS G. ELAM, ERIKA FRY, KATHLEEN SMYTH, AND NIAMH SWEENEY


See the full list: Fortune's 100 Fastest-Growing

3-year average
Revenue Growth: 37%
Profit Growth: 100%
Total Return: 58%

If you want to cut steel, drill for oil, make a credit card, manufacture products, lay fiber-optic cable for broadband, weld, cut, mark or engrave something or even engage in some wrinkle removal, you’re probably going to need a high-power laser at some point. That’s where IPG Photonics comes in with its fiber laser technology which has become increasingly popular in general manufacturing and heavy industry, often replacing conventional lasers. IPG had a tough year in 2009 when sales in the materials processing market fell off by 25% as a result of the global recession. The subsequent two years were much better, however, as manufacturers in China boosted sales of mid- and high-power lasers. Net sales in 2011, at $474.5 million, were more than double those of 2009. -- N.S.

Get stock quote: IPGP
Revenue ($ millions):
$498
Net Income ($ millions): $125
Industry: Semiconductors and Other Electronic Components

BY L. MICHAEL CACACE, DOUGLAS G. ELAM, ERIKA FRY, KATHLEEN SMYTH, AND NIAMH SWEENEY


See the full list: Fortune's 100 Fastest-Growing

3-year average
Revenue Growth: 52%
Profit Growth: 70%
Total Return: 60%

Some had worried that the loss of Steve Jobs might hinder the seemingly relentless forward march of Apple. They needn’t have. Since Jobs passed away last year, Apple’s share price has risen almost 80%. In August, the iPhone maker overtook Microsoft as the largest-ever U.S. company by stock-market value. The only negative spot so far this year came when the company fell short of Wall Street’s expectations with a rare earnings miss in the third quarter due to lower-than-expected iPhone sales. That said, the 26 million iPhones sold still represented a 22% increase over the same period in 2011 – not too shabby, considering the hotly anticipated release of the iPhone 5 may have delayed purchases by some holdouts. Sales of the iPad hit a record in the last quarter, up 84% year-on-year, but the iPhone remains the undisputed king of growth at Apple. -- N.S.

Get stock quote: AAPL
Revenue ($ millions):
$142,360
Net Income ($ millions): $38,617
Industry: Computers, Office Equipment

BY L. MICHAEL CACACE, DOUGLAS G. ELAM, ERIKA FRY, KATHLEEN SMYTH, AND NIAMH SWEENEY 9.


See the full list: Fortune's 100 Fastest-Growing

3-year average
Revenue Growth: 237%
Profit Growth: 122%
Total Return: 36%

Riding high on the hydraulic fracturing wave, Northern Oil and Gas went on a spending spree last year, snapping up properties in the Bakken and Three Forks plays of North Dakota and Montana. By the end of 2011, the company’s proved reserves were up 198% from where they were at the end of 2010. This year, first and second quarter sales were up 151% and 99% year-on-year, respectively, as production was ramped up to capitalize on rising oil prices. And there’s no sign of any slowdown. Northern Oil completed another 162 wells in the second quarter, bringing their total number of producing wells to 955, with an additional 150 in the works. -- N.S.

Get stock quote: NOG
Revenue ($ millions):
$212
Net Income ($ millions): $56
Industry: Mining, Crude-Oil Production

BY L. MICHAEL CACACE, DOUGLAS G. ELAM, ERIKA FRY, KATHLEEN SMYTH, AND NIAMH SWEENEY


See the full list: Fortune's 100 Fastest-Growing

3-year average
Revenue Growth: 45%
Profit Growth: 81%
Total Return: 109%

When is a pair of yoga pants not just a pair of yoga pants? For some fashion-conscious folk, the small-yet-distinctive Lululemon signature squiggle is what sets them apart. Moving into the top 10 (up seven spots from where it first appeared on last year’s list) this maker of long-lasting, cut-above yoga apparel continues to impress. Revenue surged 41% in 2011 which management attributed to the addition of 41 new stores and existing-store sales growth of 22%. The Vancouver-based outfit ditched the franchise model and now has more than 180 corporate-owned locations in Canada, the U.S., Australia and New Zealand. Lululemon has also been increasing its online presence which, the company says, is an increasingly important part of its growth strategy, now representing more than 10% of net revenue. -- N.S.

Get stock quote: LULU
Revenue ($ millions):
$1,100
Net Income ($ millions): $197
Industry: Specialty Retailers: Other

BY L. MICHAEL CACACE, DOUGLAS G. ELAM, ERIKA FRY, KATHLEEN SMYTH, AND NIAMH SWEENEY


See the full list: Fortune's 100 Fastest-Growing

3-year average
Revenue Growth: 41%
Profit Growth: 341%
Total Return: 53%

While the housing market continued to languish through its multi-year torpor last year, U.S. commercial real estate bounced back, as easier financing terms and improving yields on rents enticed investors back into the market. This left HFF, a self-described “leading provider of commercial real estate and capital markets services” with “local real estate expertise,” well positioned to take advantage of the surge in activity. The company said it benefited from a 45% increase in production volume in its capital markets services, which include debt placement, structured finance, investment banking and advisory services. HFF recorded a 24% increase in revenue in the first quarter compared with the same period in 2011. -- N.S.

Get stock quote: HF
Revenue ($ millions):
$265
Net Income ($ millions): $39
Industry: Real estate

BY L. MICHAEL CACACE, DOUGLAS G. ELAM, ERIKA FRY, KATHLEEN SMYTH, AND NIAMH SWEENEY


See the full list: Fortune's 100 Fastest-Growing

3-year average
Revenue Growth: 51%
Profit Growth: 93%
Total Return: 64%

In July 2011, oil refiners Holly Corporation and Frontier Oil finalized a highly synergistic merger that created a super refiner with operations throughout the mid-continent, south western and Rocky Mountain regions. The new HollyFrontier Corp. was quick to capitalize on an unprecedented glut of oil that had come about at land-locked Cushing, Oklahoma. The net effect of this year-long anomaly was to hand a considerable raw-materials cost advantage to refiners that sourced their crude inland rather than from the coast. Among them: HollyFrontier, which recorded a 90% increase in revenue in 2011, swiftly followed by a 185% hike in revenue in the first quarter. -- N.S.

Get stock quote: HFC
Revenue ($ millions):
$18,045
Net Income ($ millions): $1,180
Industry: Petroleum Refining

BY L. MICHAEL CACACE, DOUGLAS G. ELAM, ERIKA FRY, KATHLEEN SMYTH, AND NIAMH SWEENEY


See the full list: Fortune's 100 Fastest-Growing

3-year average
Revenue Growth: 72%
Profit Growth: 99%
Total Return: 56%

Although the name Baidu literally means “hundreds of times,” this Chinese company’s search engine is used many millions of times every day. The Chinese equivalent of Google, Baidu boasts a whopping 79% share of the search-engine market in China. Its search engine was also recently added as an option on iPhones and iPads in China, which should further cement its leading position. In recent times Baidu has branched out from internet search, launching its own internet web browser and smartphone. However, like Google, almost all of Baidu’s revenue is generated through search advertising. The company has recorded solid, double-digit profit growth over the past year. -- N.S.

Get stock quote: BIDU
Revenue ($ millions):
$2,571
Net Income ($ millions): $1,173
Industry: Internet Services and Retailing

BY L. MICHAEL CACACE, DOUGLAS G. ELAM, ERIKA FRY, KATHLEEN SMYTH, AND NIAMH SWEENEY


See the full list: Fortune's 100 Fastest-Growing

3-year average
Revenue Growth: 39%
Profit Growth: 450%
Total Return: 88%

There’s a good chance you own something that has a Cirrus Logic-designed audio chip embedded in it. As a major supplier to Apple, the company has been on a roll for a while, recording 27%, 67% and 15% respective revenue growth in the past three fiscal years, which Cirrus attributes to increased sales of portable audio products. Cirrus shares have more than doubled in value over the past 12 months, touching prices not seen since 2002. The Austin, Texas-based concern also makes integrated circuits for the energy industry, although that revenue line took a 27% hit in fiscal 2012. Growth at Cirrus now looks to be firmly tied to Apple and its audio chips. -- N.S.

Get stock quote: CRUS
Revenue ($ millions):
$427
Net Income ($ millions): $88
Industry: Semiconductors and Other Electronic Components

BY L. MICHAEL CACACE, DOUGLAS G. ELAM, ERIKA FRY, KATHLEEN SMYTH, AND NIAMH SWEENEY


See the full list: Fortune's 100 Fastest-Growing

3-year average
Revenue Growth: 76%
Profit Growth: 340%
Total Return: 49%

It’s a little-known fact that most silver is produced as a by-product of something else -- meaning the people who mine it don’t actually want it. As a “silver-streaming” company, Silver Wheaton enters into silver-purchase agreements with miners where the company contracts to buy all or part of the mined silver. To date the company has signed 14 long-term silver-purchase agreements at roughly $4 an ounce. It’s that simple – buy low, sell high. Silver Wheaton posted record sales and revenues in the first and second quarters and says it is on track for its “best year ever.” -- Niamh Sweeney, contributor

Get stock quote: SLW
Revenue ($ millions):
$771
Net Income ($ millions): $575
Industry: Mining, Crude-Oil Production

BY L. MICHAEL CACACE, DOUGLAS G. ELAM, ERIKA FRY, KATHLEEN SMYTH, AND NIAMH SWEENEY


See the full list: Fortune's 100 Fastest-Growing

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