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Originally published Saturday, June 7, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Northwest 100 methodology

Being the biggest company around, or the fastest growing, or the one with the highest-soaring stock, doesn't necessarily make you a top...

Being the biggest company around, or the fastest growing, or the one with the highest-soaring stock, doesn't necessarily make you a top performer. That's why our ranking of the Northwest's publicly traded companies uses several criteria to pick its winners and losers.

Stripped to its essentials, a business's primary mission is to use whatever resources it has as efficiently as possible to make money for its shareholders.

Each of the Northwest 100's four ranking factors gets at part of that task: sales per employee (top-line efficiency), operating income (strength of the core business), return on equity (how much bang the company is getting out of shareholders' bucks) and stock-price appreciation (market recognition of all the above and more).

We ranked each company on each of those four dimensions separately — measuring performance over its last two fiscal years, to weed out the flashes in the pans and one-hit wonders.

Beyond the overall ranking, we've sliced and diced the numbers to examine the Northwest's roster of public companies by their one-year performance. You can sort the companies by the following criteria here {$326}..

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