Hawaii’s Most Profitable Companies

An inside look at measuring success

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For 28 years, Hawaii Business has been publishing a list of Hawaii’s Top 250 organizations based on gross revenues, because we think that’s the most effective way to measure a company’s size.

However, there have always been critics in the business community who believe we should use profits instead. “After all,” they point out, “many of those in the Top 250 actually lost money.” True.  Revenues might be a proxy for size, but they’re an imprecise measure of success.

But, profitability presents its own problems. To paraphrase Alvin Toffler, “Profits are like sausage; they’re esteemed most by those who know least about what goes into them.”
Profit is affected by:

•  Nuances of the tax code;
•  Whether a company is publicly traded or privately held;
•  Whether the company is regulated and how;
•  How it applies the sometimes arbitrary rules of GAAP, or generally accepted accounting principles;
•  Whether it’s in a capital-intensive industry; and
•  Even the simple calculus of ownership: “Shall we take profits or shall we reinvest?”

In short, while profits are critical, they’re not always the only or even the most important measure of success. Also, privately held companies are more reluctant to provide their profit numbers to Hawaii Business than their revenue numbers; only 41 of the Top 250 provided their profit information for the list.

Yet, although our profitability list isn’t comprehensive, we were able to collect the financial statements of many of the Top 250 organizations. Some, like nonprofits and government agencies, post their financial reports online. Others are public record, gathered from places like the Securities Exchange Commission, the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Commission and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

Collectively, these 990s, 10-Ks and other disclosures provide a fascinating look at which businesses are making (and losing) the most money in Hawaii. We also look beyond the basic data, providing other metrics and analyses to help you make sense of all those numbers.


Hawaii’s Most Profitable

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First Hawaiian Is Hawaii’s Most Profitable Company

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Bank of Hawaii Leads in Return on Equity

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