News Column

HB500 Growth at 10-Year High

June 2006, Hispanic Business Magazine

Jesús Chavarría, Editor & Publisher

2006HB500

Five years after one of the most sinister events in the history of the nation, the economy has adjusted, more or less, to life in a time of uncertainty. Americans are optimistic at heart, and we go on.

Certainly the Hispanic Business 500® companies have adjusted to the challenging times, keeping up their optimism and growing revenues at the same time.

Cumulative revenues for the 500 rose to $34.82 billion in 2005, and overall the 500 companies posted their best revenue growth performance since l996.

The Related Group of Florida retained the No. 1 ranking captured in 2004 by once again adding $1 billion to its revenues in one year, while Brightstar Corp. and Molina Healthcare increased their revenues by more than $500 million each. Seven companies added $3.04 billion in revenue growth, making up 66 percent of the growth of the entire 500.

Only 60 companies in the directory reported revenue shortfalls compared to the prior year. Inevitably perhaps, the 500 can be read as divided between the fast-growing, well-capitalized top of the rankings, and the slower-growth bulk of the list. It is the latter, all with revenues in excess of $5 million, that make up the U.S. Hispanic middle-market economy.

The pattern of general growth aggregation among the top 100 companies has persisted since 2001. It indicates, perhaps, that most companies on the 500 either continue facing challenges in capitalizing their growth, or remain reluctant to encumber their firms with large debt or higher-risk equity capital. Yet, asked about main obstacles to their growth, the 500 CEOs referred most to "market conditions" and "competition" (cited by 33.4 percent and 16.4 percent of survey respondents, respectively), followed closely by 14 percent whose top problem is a "labor shortage" – pointing to the tight market for knowledge workers and skilled labor.

Construction firms reported a banner year. Despite a drop of eight firms from last year, the group's percentage of total revenues rose from 22 to 24.9 percent. Their average revenue also increased, from $70.1 million to $99.6 million. Much of that gain comes from growth at the top (among such as The Related Group).

Remarkably, publication of the 2006 Hispanic Business 500 marks the 24th anniversary of a story that has become a classic of reporting on the emerging U.S. Hispanic enterprise sector. Although the first two directories of the largest U.S. Hispanic firms numbered only 400 companies (in 1983 and 1984), the list quickly grew to 500, and has become the measure of growth among this country's leading Hispanic-owned firms.

Together the 500 typify the best and the brightest in Hispanic enterprise. Generally they're young firms with great potential for future growth. And they're a major force driving the expansion of Hispanic net worth in the United States.

BY THE NUMBERS

Signs of a looming skilled-worker shortage in the U.S. job market emerged during the first half of 2006, according to various sources. The outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. says its survey of job seekers indicates the median skilled-worker job search lasted just 2.7 months in the first quarter of 2006. This is the shortest search time they've recorded for any quarter since the pre-9/11 "record low" of 2.1 months, in the second quarter of 2001.

Another indicator of a tightening job market, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), is that 60 percent of employers surveyed plan to increase hiring of 2006 college grads. "Nearly nine out of 10 employers reported an increase in competition for new college hires," NACE reports.

A survey of Hispanic Business magazine's 500 largest companies for 2006 indicates that 14 percent of all these firms identify a "labor shortage" as their most important obstacle to growth, up from 8.8 percent in last year's survey.



Source: HISPANIC BUSINESS Magazine and Hispanicbusiness.com, Copyright (c) 2006 All Rights reserved.


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