On 2023’s 100 Fastest-Growing Companies list, Tesla makes its debut, the financial sector’s reign ends, and industrials take off

In 2021, the financial sector dominated the list of fastest-growing companies, with one-third of the top 100 companies belonging to this industry. However, the landscape has changed significantly since then. In the current year, only nine financial companies made it to the Fortune 100 Fastest-Growing Companies list. In contrast, the industrial sector has taken the lead, with 22 companies making the list. One notable addition is Tesla, the electric auto giant, which ranks second on the list in its debut year. Tesla's remarkable growth can be attributed to its earnings per share, which grew at an average rate of 285% over the past three years, placing it among the top performers. Surpassing even Tesla's growth rate is a construction-supply company, also based in the same state. 

The Fastest-Growing Companies list has been published annually for 38 years, and it evaluates companies based on their revenue, profits, and stock returns over a three-year period, ending in June 2023. Together, the companies featured on the list have a total market capitalization of $4 trillion. On average, these companies have provided a remarkable 42% annual return to shareholders over the past three years. This performance significantly outperforms the 15% annual return achieved by the S&P 500 index during the same period.  

Industrials led all sectors with a 108% three-year average annual earnings growth rate. Alongside No. 2 Tesla, the No. 3 spot was also claimed by a Texas-based company from the industrial sector. McKinney-based electrical equipment company Encore Wire saw nearly $3 billion in revenue in the four quarters before April 2023. Chemical company Sociedad Química y Minera (SQM) (No.4) is the sole South American company on this list, headquartered in Santiago, Chile. SQM generated more than $11 billion in revenue in the four quarters before April 2023. 

Tech giants Meta, Amazon, and Netflix did not return to the fastest-growing companies list this year, after notably falling off in 2022. This year Alphabet also departed, ending a three-year run on the list. However, technology companies continued to be a strong (albeit shrinking) presence, with 17 tech companies claiming spots, down from 21 last year. Technology firms led all sectors on the Fastest-Growing Companies list in revenue growth, with a 57% average annual growth rate. 

The energy sector added 10 companies from a year ago, for a total of 15 this year. In 2021, there were no businesses from the energy sector on the list, as a COVID-19 pandemic-related drop in energy demand clobbered energy companies’ revenue share prices. Daqo New Energy, a manufacturer of silicon and polysilicon for solar panels, fell from its No.1 spot on last year's list but still landed the No.7 spot this year.

A construction supply giant is the new No. 1

Since its founding in 1998, Builders Firstsource has become the largest residential construction materials supplier in the U.S. This year, the company claimed the No.1 spot on the 100 Fastest-Growing Companies list. That’s a quick rise to the top, considering the average age of a company on this year's ranking is 63 years old.

Builders Firstsource is one of 29 Fortune 500 companies that are on this year’s Fastest Growing Companies list. The Texas-based company brought in $20.9 billion in revenue in the four quarters before April 2023 and has a three-year average annual revenue growth rate of 55%. The supplier also averaged an impressive average annual total return to shareholders of 87% over those three years.

Other Fortune 500 companies that made the cut include the aforementioned Tesla, as well as energy powerhouses Chevron and Exxon Mobil, and pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.

Colorado-based Liberty Broadband was a newcomer to the list this year, landing the No. 29 spot. The telecommunications company had the highest three-year annual average revenue growth rate on the list, at 405%. No. 47 BlueLinx Holdings, headquartered in Marietta, Ga., led all businesses with a 122% average annual return to shareholders.

Trading in the U.S., operating abroad

Companies must trade on a U.S. stock exchange and report results in U.S. dollars to qualify for the Fortune Fastest-Growing Companies list. (See the full methodology here.) Still, there are 12 non-U.S.-based Fortune Fastest-Growing Companies this year, including two Canadian companies, six Asian companies, three European companies, and one South American company. 

No. 11 finisher Star Bulk Carriers is a shipping company based in Marousi, Greece, and it made its first appearance ever on the list this year, leading all businesses with a three-year annual average earnings-per-share growth rate of 476%.

This year, Texas passed California as the home U.S. state for the highest number of fastest growers, with 16 companies headquartered there (including three of the top four), compared to California’s 11. Five of the Texas-based companies are located in Houston. 

The six fastest-growing companies are led by female CEOs. No. 5 Clearfield, a fiber-optic product manufacturing and distribution company, has seen an earnings-per-share three-year annual average growth rate of 138% under the watch of Cheryl Beranek, a founding member of Clearfield who’s been at the helm since 2008. 

While substantial growth in sales, stock returns, and profit are top priorities for pretty much any company, that task is easier said than done. Significant gains over a year or two can be considered impressive—but sustained growth over multiple years is indicative of great market navigation and industry leadership. As of 2023, the companies with the longest streaks on this list are homebuilding company Green Brick Partners and power semiconductor company Monolith—each with five consecutive years of appearances.

In total, 32 Fortune Fastest-Growing Companies returned from last year's list. LGI Homes’s five-year run on the fastest-growing companies list ended this year. The departing homebuilder was the company with the longest streak on the 2022 list.

Since 1987, 14 companies on the list have been winners for five years or more. This year, No. 62 energy company HF Sinclair and No. 87 building materials company Patrick Industries led all winners with eight total appearances on the Fastest-Growing Companies lists. It wasn’t long ago that this title was dominated by tech companies, as the sector was considered synonymous with rapid growth—a reminder that a lot can change even in just a year’s time. 

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