Bank Hapoalim, Israel's largest bank, has been selected as the most financially sound company in the country overtaking Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries, which dropped to third place on Dun & Bradstreet Israel's "strength" index for 2006. "The Strength Ranking, the leading index of the Duns 100, reflects the strength of the Israeli economy this year, the continued growth and the improvement across all sectors," said Reuven Kuvent, D&B Israel general manager. "Most of the leading companies saw improved profits, while their market capitalizations rose." D&B Israel's strength index, ranking Israel's largest companies, showed that the weighted value of the top 100 companies grew by 20% in the past year to $120 billion. In addition, D&B reported a 23% rise in the aggregate revenue of the top 100 companies, to $86b., while aggregate net profits fell 10% during the same period to $6.3b. The index is based purely on the financial performance of companies between January and September 2006, and factors in revenues, market value, net income and equity of all companies to arrive at the rankings. Bank Hapoalim, was boosted to the top of the index by generating the highest earnings of $577.2 million in the first nine months of 2006 compared with $499.3m. a year earlier. "The profits of the banks are closely linked to the state of the economy. In a period of growth and prosperity in the economic atmosphere, the banks are among the first to benefit," said Kuvent. "We saw this in their business results last year, and we see it in their rankings on the strength index." The economy's momentum and strength is also reflected in other sectors, such as holding companies and real estate companies, which not only saw improvements in their local market but at the same time branched out and expanded abroad, he added. Bank Hapoalim was followed by Israel Chemicals, which moved up to the second place on the index from sixth place previously, while Teva dropped to third place after three years at the top. Economists at Duns 100 attributed Teva's decline in the ranking to the one-time costs of acquiring Ivax. Bank Leumi retained its fourth place ranking, while Bank Discount moved up three places to number 12 on the strength index.