Add another year of above-average performance by Minnesota's largest companies to the streak that began in 2000, when breathless talk about a New Economy began to fade.
Old Economy companies, it turns out, embraced the new digital tools but still made their money the old-fashioned way -- by providing goods and services that customers are willing to buy. That winning formula, from which few Minnesota-based companies have wandered, delivered very nice results through recession, war and recovery.
Call it Minnesota Nice.
In 2004, the state's diverse corporate landscape percolated with mergers, spinoffs and sales, from agriculture to retail to software to medical technology. Even bidding wars, not heard of since the heady days before 9/11, returned to the headlines, pitting corporate giants against one another to scoop up promising Minnesota technology companies.
Collectively, the state's biggest companies delivered double-digit gains in revenue and profits. And investors rewarded them with an overall 17 percent gain in market value -- an impressive performance that was more than twice the gains on major market indexes such as the Standard & Poor's 500 and the Dow Jones industrial average during the same period. This is the fourth consecutive year that the companies that make up the Star Tribune 100 have beaten those major indexes.