In The Lead: Top 50 / Pittsburgh region's top public companies based on revenue

Firms follow time-honored ways to boost revenue

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The three companies that topped this year's list of firms showing the biggest change in revenue — ExOne, Eaton and EQT — had more than the letter "E" in common as they produced excellent gains on the top line.

All three used time-honored techniques to get those revenue spikes — a hot technology for a North Huntingdon company which uses 3-D printing to manufacture industrial parts; the ambitious acquisition of an electrical equipment competitor for Cleveland-based Eaton Corp.; and a push into the fast-moving Marcellus Shale's natural gas development for Downtown-based EQT Corp.

All three also reported revenue change above 35 percent in their most recent fiscal year, putting them way ahead of the fourth place finisher on the list, Roseland, N.J., engineered products supplier Curtiss-Wright, which saw its revenue increase 19.7 percent with help from acquisitions.

The rankings include both companies based in the Pittsburgh region and those with a significant presence here.

Six other companies put up double-digit percentage increases in their revenue, ranging from Station Square electrical equipment distributor Wesco International, which recorded a 14.2 percent bump, to Citizens Bank parent company Royal Bank of Scotland, which reported a 10.1 percent increase.

Only 12 of the 50 companies that managed to make it onto the list did so despite posting negative numbers in the revenue change column, with Koppers Holdings and American Eagle Outfitters in a tie for last place with 4.9 percent drops.

South Side teen clothing retailer American Eagle admitted stumbling last year, with fashion that didn't wow the young people it aspires to dress and a general malaise among mall-based teen clothiers. Downtown-based Koppers, which makes carbon chemicals and wood treatment products, has been coping with a tough European economy. Its restructuring efforts have included closing plants and cutting jobs.

Looking only at total revenue for companies working in the Pittsburgh region — rather than at changes in revenue — had the effect of illustrating how much smaller many of the businesses based here are compared to many global companies that have operations here.

First place on the top revenue list went to McKesson, the San Francisco health care services corporation that has numerous U.S. offices as well as operations in Canada, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands and New Zealand. Last year McKesson reported $122.5 billion in revenue.

It was trailed closely by New York telecommunications giant Verizon, with $120.6 billion in revenue, although Verizon's presence in the Pittsburgh region seems to be shrinking following the company's announcement in February that it would shift 1,000 jobs away from Cranberry and Warrendale as part of a national realignment involving 5,000 workers.

The first company actually based in southwestern Pennsylvania that appears on the top revenue list was U.S. Steel, which ranked 14th with $17.4 billion. PNC Financial Services Group's $16 billion in revenue earned the Pittsburgh bank the 16th slot on the list, followed by Downtown-based coatings and glass giant PPG Industries with $15.1 billion in 17th place.

And all three of those local businesses needed to do their own version of sprawl to pick up the kind of numbers to compete on that level. U.S. Steel has plants in places such as Canada, Europe and Brazil; PNC has been buying up operations in other markets to become one of the nation's largest banks; and PPG Industries' website lists manufacturing facilities in more than 30 countries extending from Cameroon to Germany to Uruguay.

— Teresa F. Lindeman: or at 412-263-2018.

First Published May 13, 2014 11:10 AM

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