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The Rankings

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Post 200 starts with a list of the 95 largest public companies with headquarters in the District and its suburbs. The rest of the list is made up of many of the largest private companies and nonprofit groups headquartered in the area; the region's largest employers, law firms and lobbying organizations; its major sports teams and universities; and foreign companies with U.S. headquarters in the area.

Collecting the Information

More than 300 companies, law and lobby firms, banks and credit unions, and nonprofit organizations based in or with major operations in the District, Virginia and Maryland were surveyed by The Washington Post. Information provided by public companies was checked against audited financial statements and annual reports on file with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Information from private companies that do not provide audited financial statements was taken at the companies' word, but figures provided were compared when possible with those of companies of similar size in the same industry. In some cases, private companies declined to provide data, and their information was gathered by reporters from authoritative sources. Figures on financial institutions came from the institutions whenever possible and were checked against SEC documents and data on file with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Data for the law and lobby firms and nonprofit groups came from Post surveys, which were compared with other public sources. Stock prices and related information, such as market capitalization and dividends, came from Bloomberg News.

Compiling the Lists

Each list was created using its own methodology. Public companies were ranked by annual revenue, as were most private companies. A few private-company entries are based on other metrics specific to their industry. Carlyle Group, for instance, was included because of the amount of money it has under management. Private companies that declined to provide any data were omitted if the information could not be verified independently, no matter how large they seem. Nonprofit groups were ranked by revenue, and large employers and foreign companies with U.S. headquarters here were judged by how many employees work in the metropolitan area. Law firms were ranked by the number of lawyers based locally, and lobbying firms were ranked by 2008 lobby fees as tallied by the Center for Responsive Politics. A few firms showed up on more than one list. The charts reflect their placement in both categories, but they each received only one listing in The Post 200. Listings for some closely aligned companies were merged. Saul Centers Inc. folded into the listing for B.F. Saul Co., and J.E. Robert Cos. can be found under its public affiliate, JER Investors Trust.

Geographic Boundaries

The lists of public and private companies, credit unions, nonprofit groups, sports teams and universities were restricted to those that have headquarters in the District; in Prince George's, Montgomery, Anne Arundel, Howard, Charles, Calvert, Frederick and St. Mary's counties in Maryland; or in Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Fauquier, Frederick, Culpeper, and Prince William counties and the cities of Alexandria, Falls Church and Fairfax in Virginia. The remaining lists were made up of banks, law and lobby firms, and employers that maintain large operations within that geographic area.

Market Capitalization, Stock Performance

Market capitalization is a measure of a company's worth, computed by multiplying its stock price by the number of its outstanding shares at the close of trading on April 15.

Earnings Per Share

Reported on a fully diluted basis.


Reported on an annual, per-share basis.


CEO: chief executive officer. COO: chief operating officer. CFO: chief financial officer. EVP: executive vice president. NA: Not available.

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