Post 200: Methodology

Monday, December 27, 2010

The rankings

The Post 200 starts with a list of the 90 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, hospital operators 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 lobbying firms, hospital operators and nonprofit groups came from Post surveys, which were compared with other public sources. Stock prices and related information, such as shareholder equity and dividends, came from Bloomberg News.

Compiling the lists

Each list was created using its own methodology. Most public companies were ranked by revenue, based on their most recent annual report, as were most private companies. Some financial firms use differing measures for revenues, so they were counted separately. Likewise, a few private-company entries are included in the Post 200 based on 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 the amount they spend in the greater Washington region. Universities were ranked by the number of full-time students who had enrolled in the fall 2010 semester. 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. In the case of Patton Boggs, the firm shows up on both the law and lobbying lists. The charts reflect its placement in both categories, but the firm counted just once for the purposes of the Post 200. The Wizards basketball franchise and Capitals hockey team received separate write-ups, but only their common owner, Monumental Sports & Entertainment, made the list.

Geographic boundaries

The lists of public and private companies, credit unions, nonprofit groups, sports teams, hospital operators 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 lobbying firms, and employers that maintain large operations within that geographic area.

Shareholder equity, stock performance

A firm's total assets minus its total liabilities.

Earnings per share

Reported on a fully diluted basis.


Reported on an annual, per-share basis.


CEO: chief executive officer. NA: Not available.

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