Innovation is CSL’s stock in trade. But this year’s chronology of events maps a company that has found – or placed – itself in the right place at the right time. A week ago, the world’s second-largest producer of blood plasma products lifted its profit guidance for the 2006/07 financial year approximately 10% above August’s prediction thanks to reduced plasma supplies in the US. In July, the company bought out smaller fry Melbourne-based Zenyth Therapeutics. CSL was further boosted when its cervical cancer booster Gardasil gained TGA approval in June and later, after a bit of teeth-pulling, PBS approval ahead of a national vaccination campaign. Under the impressive guiding hand of CEO Brian McNamee, Crikey’s CEO of the Year in 2005, CSL’s share price started this year around $40 and is currently trading at $65.30 — a company in very good health.

Honourable mentions:

Zinifex, for having risen from the ashes, ridden the commodities boom better than anyone and seen its share price rise some 300% in a year as it exploited the cycle to reduce risk.

Macquarie Bank, whose extraordinary deal flow continued, putting paid to suggestions that the “Macquarie model” was under threat as it surfed the growing private equity boom.

David Jones, who watched as its competitor Myer was sold off, stuck to its knitting and saw its share price double over the year.

Rural Press, whose patient board and controlling Fairfax family shareholder waited for the top of the market to capitalise on their exemplary performance over the years and do a deal with the larger Fairfax that, if it isn’t topped, will give the Rural Fairfaxes effective control of the city Fairfaxes and also dramatically increase the Fairfax family coffers.

2005 winner: QBE Insurance.