Again this year, China/Hong Kong firms dominate the list with 63 names. Add those domiciled in Taiwan, and you get to 89 in Greater China—with several more in Southeast Asia drawing on Chinese business networks. So, the growth of the world’s second-largest economy continues to be central to the BUB story.
Weakness in sustaining star performers in this “SME”-sized sector was in evidence where nations failed to gain any representation or, in the case of the otherwise booming Philippines, scored only one. By contrast, Vietnam, struggling to regain recent economic-growth rates, has 10 names on the list. Meantime, slowdown-hit India, with 19 selections, fell to its lowest level since 2007.
FORBES ASIA’s editors, drawing on databases of 15,000 stock-traded companies in Asia-Pacific with revenues between $5 million and $1 billion, winnowed the choice to 873 that satisfied the following criteria: five-year average return on equity and pretax margin greater than 10%, positive sales and earnings per share growth for both the most recent fiscal one and three-year periods, debt less than 75% of shareholders’ equity, and a trading history of at least on year.
The final list of 200 is not ranked, but qualified firms are measured comparatively. This is truly a select field—the top 1.3% of the category.
Only 52 of the 200 repeat from last year, although a dozen others returned to the BUB from lists previous to that. Of the 2013 group, four companies—Hartalega Holdings , Mudajaya Group , Philweband YGSoft—share the mark for longest BUB streak, four years apiece. (Last year’s record holder, Ctrip, fell off the list along with longtime regular Changyu Pioneer Wine, as China’s economy adjusted.)
Which industry spawned most of our Best Under A Billion? Information technology, with 55 companies when you include six chipmakers.
A handful of achievers from last year’s 200 “graduated” off the list this year by exceeding $1 billion in latest-year revenues. Among them: China’s Kangmei Pharmaceutical and Tianneng Power International .
This year’s compilation involved number crunchers Christina Settimi, Michael Ozanian and Scott DeCarlo, with assistance from our editorial team in Asia and Sandy Chan, Heng Shao and Dan Alexander in N.Y.
To see the biggest individual shareholders of companies for to Forbes.com