The 58th annual FP500 is your guide to corporate Canada from AbbVie to Yara Belle Plaine
Here are some of the highlights of this year’s edition
Welcome to FP Magazine’s latest ranking of Canada’s largest corporations by revenue. See the full ranking here.
2021: $2.41 trillion
2020: $2.26 trillion
2021: $293.43 billion
2020: $125.38 billion
2021: $15.3 trillion
2020: $14.1 trillion
So much for the pandemic hurting corporate Canada. Overall, FP500 companies increased their average revenue by 6.6% to $4.82 billion last year, but their total profits more than doubled to an average of $721 million for the 407 companies who reported their income. Overall assets rose 8.5% to $15.3 trillion, for an average of $35.3 billion for the 434 companies that reported such figures, though that is, of course, skewed by the Big Five banks, including three — Toronto-Dominion Bank, Royal Bank of Canada and Bank of Nova Scotia — whose assets top $1.1 trillion each.
There are 294 publicly traded companies on the FP500, with 274 of them trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Three companies solely trade on the New York Stock Exchange and six on the Nasdaq, but there are 89 cross-listed TSX companies including 67 that trade on the NYSE, 15 on the Nasdaq and seven on the Amex. There are also six companies trading on the Canadian Securities Exchange and four on the TSX Venture. None of the FP500 companies trade on the upstart Neo exchange, nor any on the broader FP800. The rest of the FP500 is made up of 147 private companies, 44 Crown corporations and 16 coops.
Rising to the top
For the record, Fonds de solidarité des travailleurs du Québec (F.T.Q.), posted the biggest rise in the ranking, jumping 310 places to No. 150, a year after it fell 177 places. But looking beyond amazing accounting tricks, the biggest riser is Vancouver-based BBTV Holdings Inc. (No. 464), which rose 278 places after its revenue jumped 334.5% to $476.6 million.
Despite the rapid growth, the manager and distributor of content founded by Shahrzad Rafati in 2005 has been struggling to gain investor favour since going public on the TSX in October 2020. As of mid-May 2022, its stock had dropped about 85%, although analysts still had an average price target of $6.88, which is more than triple its $2 price as of May 12.
To say Transat A.T. Inc. hasn’t had a good year is an understatement. Its revenue decreased 90.4%, causing it to fall right out of the FP500 ranking and land at No. 725, a drop of 460 places. On top of that, it was spurned by Air Canada, which had inked a $720-million deal to buy it in August 2019, revised downward to $190 million in October 2020, and ultimately dropped altogether in April 2021 when the European Commission indicated the deal would still face high regulatory hurdles to be completed. The outlook looks a little better since the discount vacation carrier has been resuming many of its flights, including Montreal to Barcelona, and adding new destinations such as Dublin and Amsterdam. Other public transportation entities also plummeted, including Metrolinx, which fell 274 spots to No. 666 following a 74.1% decline in revenue for the Crown corporation that operates public transit in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, and VIA Rail Canada Inc., which dropped 275 places to No. 769 following a 77.4% drop in revenue.
New to us
There are 17 newcomers to the FP500 this year, led by Waterloo, Ont.-based property insurer Definity Financial Corp. (No. 157). Definity went public in November 2021 in a $1.6-billion IPO — the largest in Canada last year — but its roots date all the way back to 1871 when its founding brand, the Economical Mutual Fire Insurance Co., issued its first policy to protect Ismael Bowman’s barn and home. Economical is still one of its branded entities as is Sonnet, Petline Insurance Co. (formerly Western Financial Insurance Co.) and Family Insurance. Other notable newcomers include Thornhill, Ont.-based manufacturer Nexans Canada Inc. (No. 184), and Toronto-based insurer Brookfield Annuity Co. (No. 272) and technology seller Softchoice Corp. (No. 291), which makes a return to the rankings after a $402.5-million IPO in May 2021, the sixth-largest Canadian IPO last year. Softchoice was founded in 1989 and had long been in the FP500 until it was taken private in June 2013 by Birch Hill Equity Partners.
Growth by acquisition
There’s no doubt the past year has been a good time to be in the oilpatch. The price of oil has been soaring, which, of course, has the knock-on effect of making just about everything else a little more expensive since products have to be transported. But newly enriched after a few tough years when corporate and retail investors started shunning old-school energy in favour of more environmentally friendly plays, Canadian oil and gas companies have been returning cash in the form of dividends and share buybacks to shareholders and buying up rivals instead of sinking more money into the ground. For example, Enbridge Inc. (No. 8) and Cenovus Energy Inc. (No. 9) have moved into the top 10, displacing Bank of Nova Scotia and Sun Life Financial Inc. Enbridge moved up just three places, but Cenovus jumped 30 spots largely because of its $10.2-billion acquisition of Husky Energy Inc. (No. 38 in 2020) in January 2021. Similarly, Arc Resources Ltd. (No. 130) rose 167 spots after its $2.9-billion acquisition of Seven Generations Energy Ltd. (No. 174 in 2020) in April 2021. Further down is newcomer Spartan Energy Corp. (No. 448) with revenue of $542 million, up from $87 million in 2020 and less than $2 million in 2019, following a series of acquisitions that included a couple of distress deals, notably Bellatrix Exploration Ltd. in June 2020 for $87 million.
All the top cannabis companies on the list — Curaleaf Holdings (No. 250), Trulieve Cannabis Corp. (No. 285), Green Thumb Industries Inc. (No. 296), Cresco Labs Inc. (No. 310) and Columbia Care Inc. (No. 429), as well as Ayr Wellness Inc. (No. 482) — have head offices in the United States since that’s the market they are focused on, but they qualify for the FP500 because they’re incorporated in British Columbia. They are all experiencing rapid growth as cannabis legalization in the U.S. attracts more consumers. Columbia Care made the biggest jump in the ranking, rising 161 spots as its revenue rose 139.7% to $576.9 million, while Ayr Wellness, a New York-based multi-state cannabis operator, jumped 153 positions as its revenue more than doubled to $448.4 million. Despite their rapid growth, most of them are still losing money, as is Smiths Falls, Ont.-based Canopy Growth Corp. (No. 440), which reported a loss of $1.74 billion, with $534 million of that chalked up to asset impairment and restructuring costs related to its aggressive acquisition strategy. In late April, it announced it was laying off about 250 employees and lowering cultivation expenses as part of a cost-cutting plan. It also expects to write off up to $300 million in excess inventory.
If only that were true. Canada’s technology industry continues to underwhelm. One-time market darling BlackBerry Ltd. continued its fall, dropping 68 spots to No. 347 as its revenue fell 24.5% to less than $900 million. It was only 11 years ago that the one-time smartphone maker was No. 13, but lost the race to deeper-pocketed rivals. Now it’s a security software vendor losing market share to bigger-pocketed competitors, which sounds awfully familiar.
Canada’s top technology company, once again, is Montreal-based systems integrator CGI Inc. (down two spots to No. 46), which doesn’t make anything, but it does put it all together. Its revenue dipped 0.3% last year, perhaps due to the lack of people in corporate offices who need new I.T. systems. Three spots further down is Bausch Health Cos. Inc., formerly known as Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, which in 2010 merged with Biovail Corp., founded by Eugene Melnyk, who died in March at the age of 62. Since changing its name to Bausch, it has reported net losses of US$4.1 billion, US$1.8 billion, US$559 million and US$937 million from 2018 to 2021, inclusive.
Looking for a champion, it’s probably Shopify Inc. (No. 91). Although investors have been dumping the e-commerce enabler’s stock since the beginning of the year, with its share price falling roughly 75%, the company has steadily risen on the FP500 since its debt at No. 597 in 2016.
The child has become the master
BRP Inc. was spun off into a separate publicly traded entity from Bombardier Inc. in 2013 and it is now bigger than its former parent. BRP’s revenue grew 28.5% last year to $7.65 billion, while Bombardier’s dropped 12.3% to $7.63 billion. They now sit side by side on the FP500 with BRP at No. 68. Bombardier was once held up as a Canadian aerospace champion and consistently ranked in the top 25 until last year when it fell to No. 57 as it sold off various operations, including its rail-building unit to French train giant Alstom SA in 2020 and its remaining stake in the A220 program — a.k.a. the C Series — to Dutch aerospace titan Airbus SE. It also stopped making Learjets, a business jet that had been around for almost 60 years, in 2021. Bombardier is now a niche maker of corporate jets under the Challenger and Global brands. If you’re looking for a bright side, its order backlog grew to $12.2 billion as of the end of fiscal 2021, up from $10.7 billion a year ago, and it’s reduced its debt by about $3 billion since the beginning of 2021.
Location, location, location
The federal government has targeted the big banks and insurance companies with new taxes for unduly benefiting from the pandemic, but real estate companies have certainly enjoyed an excellent couple of years. Although Sinopec Daylight Energy Ltd. posted the highest one-year profit margin increase at 154.8%, five of the next eight were by real estate income trusts with Canadian Apartment Properties REIT posting a healthy 149.3%, while NorthWest Healthcare Properties REIT (108.3%) and SmartCentres REIT (106%) also more than doubled their profits from last year, mostly due to very large gains in the fair market values of their property holdings. FP500 project manager Steve Pattison notes that gains in the fair market property values for real estate businesses are included in their net income but not in their revenue figures, unlike investment (and insurance) companies whose gains in the fair market values of their investments are included in both their revenue and net income. This is why the revenue of companies such as Manulife Financial Corp. and Sun Life Financial Inc. gyrate so wildly each year, and also why they would prefer we looked at revenue excepting realized and unrealized gains (losses) on asset valuations.
Lost in the mail
All told, the 44 Crown corporations on the FP500 made almost $52.9 billion on revenue of $143.1 billion last year, but five of them lost money, topped by the $482 million lost by Canada Post Corp. (No. 56) even though it boosted revenues by 4.7% to $9.3 billion. Canada Post’s income dropped a whopping 2,091%. Now it may surprise some in the electronic age that the mail carrier has until recently made money. But in 2020, it lost $22 million, which was a 78.4% drop in income from the previous year, and those losses have continued to rack up. Part of the current loss is due to an estimated $292 million in costs related to COVID-19. It also incurred additional collection, processing and delivery costs related to parcel volumes that increased to record levels. The only other Crown corporations to officially lose money were the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority ($198.5 million), Nalcor Energy ($90 million), Balancing Pool ($37.1 million) and New Brunswick Power Corp. ($4 million).
However, others would have lost money except for some massive government funding. For example, the Toronto Transit Commission received $2.2 billion and managed to only eke out a $134.3-million profit as riders tried to stay away from the pandemic express. Similarly, Autorité régionale de transport métropolitain received $1.76 billion in government funding for a $91.3-million profit — at least on paper.
Granite REIT missed the FP500 cutoff by less than $2.2 million as it rose 26 spots to No. 501. Revenue at the one-time spinoff of Magna International Inc. grew 15.7% to $393.5 million and the value of its industrial, warehouse and logistics properties in North America and Europe grew 128.6% to almost $8.6 billion. Magna is still Granite’s principal tenant, but its warehousing assets are growing in importance as e-commerce companies need more space. Five spots behind Granite is ClearStream Energy Services Inc., which was No. 501 last year. The Calgary-based oilpatch service provider could not make the jump into the main ranking as its revenue fell 0.9% to $389.4 million. Even though oil prices soared during the year, many energy companies are choosing to return free cash flow to shareholders rather than invest in new drilling or exploration programs. FPM
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