Methodology for the Future 50 (2020)

To identify the Future 50, the BCG Henderson Institute examined more than 1,000 publicly traded companies with at least $20 billion in market value or $10 billion in revenue in the 12 months through the end of 2019. 

Thirty percent of a company’s score is based on market potential—defined as its expected future growth as determined by financial markets. This is assessed by calculating the proportion of its market value that is not attributable to the earnings stream from its existing business model.

The other 70% is based on a company’s capacity to deliver against this potential. This score comprises 19 factors, selected for their ability to predict growth over the following five years, which fall into four categories:


Our A.I. algorithm relies on natural language processing to detect a company’s strategic orientation from its SEC filings and annual reports. We assess the clarity of a company’s strategy from earnings calls. We also assess a company’s commitment to sustainability from its governance rating by Arabesque, a data-analytics firm.

Technology and investments

A company’s capital expenditures and R&D (as a percentage of sales) measure its investment in the future. Technology advantage is assessed through the growth in a company’s citation-weighted patent portfolio and that portfolio’s digital intensity (share in computing and electronic communication). To account for external innovation, a company’s portfolio of startup investments and acquisitions is compared with the best-performing global venture capital funds.


The value of youthful and focused leadership is assessed by the age and stability of a company’s executives and directors and the size of its board. The company’s diversity is assessed by its share of employees and of management that is female, as well as the geographic backgrounds of its directors.


A company’s age and (revenue-based) size are correlated with vitality loss. But three-year and six-month sales growth are predictive of future growth as signs of revitalization.

Companies with negative cash flow from operations over the prior three years on average, indicating elevated performance risk, were excluded from the ranking.

Contributors: Danielle Abril, Maria Aspan, Eamon Barrett, Kristin Bellstrom, Lee Clifford, Scott DeCarlo, Katherine Dunn, Naomi Xu Elegant, Erika Fry, Robert Hackett, Matt Heimer, Jeremy Kahn, Beth Kowitt, Michal Lev-Ram, Grady McGregor, Andrew Nusca, Brian O’Keefe, Aaron Pressman, Nicolas Rapp, Lucinda Shen, Phil Wahba, Jen Wieczner, and Claire Zillman.