Share “ECONOMY HIT by a meteor”

BY DON MECOY Published: November 15, 2009
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/> The methodology rewards companies that grow quickly, boost profits and benefit shareholders. Rare is the company that can do all three.

Syntroleum Inc. rose to the top of this year’s rankings after years as an unprofitable laggard.

The Tulsa company long has attempted to commercialize its proprietary method of converting things other than oil into fuel. Syntroleum’s resurgence is linked to a partnership with Tyson Foods to build a plant in Louisiana that will turn animal grease into synthetic fuel. As of Sept. 30, the plant was mostly done, and on budget.

Last year’s turnaround sent Syntroleum at or near the top of all three categories used in the rankings. It was first in revenue growth, second in earnings growth and third in shareholder return.

Finishing second is Orchids Paper Products Co., which produces toilet paper, napkins and paper towels that major retailers sell under store brands. The Pryor company went public several years ago to raise money to boost its production, and recently added to its capacity again.

Like Syntroleum, Orchids excelled in the rankings, finishing in the top five in each category.

Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group, which ranked third, also was a comeback story.

The Tulsa rental car company’s stock was in free fall last autumn when new CEO Scott Thompson and executives renegotiated credit agreements and managed to obtain relief from longtime contracts with failing automaker Chrysler. The stock, at less than $1 a share, was priced for bankruptcy and company officials were considering it as well.

But the stock has been the biggest gainer among Oklahoma stocks in 2009. For the 12-month period used in the Oklahoma Inc. rankings, Dollar Thrifty ranked second in shareholder return and fifth in earnings growth.