Delta & Pine Land Co. has been named by Business Week magazine as one of the top 100 “hot growth companies” in the U.S.

They are described as “innovative small-cap companies” that are “turning creativity into profits — and beating the pants off corporate America.”

While many of the largest U.S. corporations have seen their growth and stock prices stall, “plenty of smaller outfits have held their own,” the editors note.

The Business Week staff ranked the publicly-held companies on average sales and earning growth, and average return on capital over three years. “That gives us time to get a fair reading of a company's track record,” the article noted.

The company's sales were pegged at $352.3 million, with earnings of $49.2 million.

Ranking Delta & Pine Land number 42 on its list, the magazine editors based it's “hot” factor on “farmers as far away as China and South Africa cottoning to the company's weed and pest-resistant, genetically modified seeds.”

Overseas sales now account for 10 percent of revenues, the article in the June 11 issue notes, and are racking up a 35 percent annual growth rate.

“International business is so strong that (they have) had to start building a special management group with experience in foreign cultures,” it says. “The company's global outlook has helped generate an average 20 percent annual rise in sales over the past three years, and a 142 percent average annual rise in profits. Meanwhile Delta already has a lock on the U.S. market, with an 85 percent share of sales of genetically altered cotton seed.”

Citing grower savings in the U.S. of as much as $40 per acre from the use of the company's genetically modified seeds, the article says “analysts believe that Delta's biggest opportunities are abroad,” particularly China, where its seeds are already used by more than a million farmers.

“It's nice to be profiled alongside innovators in other industries as diverse as fashion, health care, and air travel,” Steve M. Hawkins, Delta & Pine Land Co. president and chief executive officer, said of the magazine article. “We certainly enjoy being recognized for a job well done.”

He said the recognition “stems from the changes farmers have embraced over the past few years. Some of the biggest changes in the agricultural industry have directly involved our business — genetics and technology.”

Hawkins said farmers have found that “the broad genetic base we use in our breeding programs offers significant value on the farm. Layered on that are the benefits of the transgenic traits that have been introgressed into those varieties.

“Farmers reward us with their business and we strive to keep them coming back season after season. That truly is the best recognition we can get.”