It is Visual Network's first appearance on the consulting firm's list, which ranks technology companies that have been in business for at least five years and increased annual revenue from at least $50,000 to $1 million.
"It is a great honor and we're happy to have it," said Bobbi Murphy, Visual Network's vice president of marketing. "I think it makes a difference to local business people and it certainly helps when you're trying to recruit locally."
The 7-year-old company went public in 1998 and had a market capitalization in 1999 of nearly $2 billion. It reported a profit of $9.6 million on sales of $91.7 million in 1999.
Some of its biggest customers include AT&T, WorldCom, Chase Manhattan Bank, and British Telecom.
But the company hit a rough spot in August, when it warned investors that revenue in the third quarter would be about half of the $30 million figure forecast by the company in July.
It also said it would post a loss that is "substantially greater" than the original forecast of a negative 3 cents a share, and expects income to remain flat for the rest of the year. Visual Networks plans to announce its third-quarter results tomorrow.
Despite its place at the top of the Fast 50, the company's stock has taken a beating this year, losing 90 percent of its value over a four-month period. Its shares closed yesterday at $5.53, off its 52-week high of $60.50 in early June.
Maryland's Enterprise Fund, which invests in promising companies through four venture capital firms, invested $250,000 in Visual Networks in 1994. The state fund sold its shares in the company last year for $28.1 million at an average price of $36.48 a share. The No. 2 company - Data Source Inc., a Silver Spring software maker - earned the spot with 6,516 percent five-year revenue growth after receiving a "rising star" ranking - akin to an honorable mention - last year.
Sequoia Software Corp., of Columbia, had the highest rise among previously ranked companies, zooming from No. 35 last year to No. 11 this year - with revenue growth at 860 percent.
"We try to promote the tremendous fast-growing companies in Maryland," said Gary Tabach, a partner in charge of Deloitte & Touche's technology and communications practice.
Deloitte & Touche will announce its "Fast 500," a nationwide ranking of the fastest-growing tech companies, next month.
The Maryland Fast 50
1. Visual Networks Inc., Rockville
2. DataSource Inc., Silver Spring
3. Guilford Pharmaceuticals, Baltimore
4. Manufacturing Engineering Systems Inc., Burtonsville
5. QSS Group Inc., Lanham
6. SGT Inc., Greenbelt
7. Antex Biologics Inc., Gaithersburg
8. CoStar Group Inc., Bethesda
9. MedImmune Inc., Gaithersburg
10. Triad Management Systems Inc., Rockville
11. Sequoia Software Corp., Columbia
12. ProObject, Hanover
13. RMW Enterprises Inc., Silver Spring
14. ISSI Consulting Group Inc., Silver Spring
15. Kimmich Software Systems Inc., Columbia
16. RABA Technologies, Columbia
17. L-Soft International Inc., Landover
18. iQuest Solutions Inc., Bethesda
19. Syscom Inc., Baltimore
20. Microcosm Inc., Columbia
21. CTX Corp., Cabin John
22. Ingenium Corp., Upper Marlboro
23. Birnbaum Interpreting Services, Silver Spring
24. EdgeMark Systems Inc., Silver Spring
25. OTG Software Inc., Bethesda
26. AXENT Technologies Inc., Rockville
27. Scientific Hospital Supplies Inc., Rockville
28. Global Science & Technology Inc., Greenbelt
29. Advanced Concepts Inc., Columbia
30. Capital Technology Information Services, Rockville
31. Community of Science Inc., Baltimore
32. Automation Consultants Inc., Baltimore
33. CynterCorp, Rockville
34. A&T Systems Inc., Silver Spring
35. OAO Technology Solutions Inc., Greenbelt
36. RDA Consultants Ltd., Timonium
37. Intervise Consultants Inc., Rockville
38. Sigma-Tau Pharmaceuticals Inc., Gaithersburg
39. The Presidio Corp., Lanham
40. Planned Systems International Inc., Columbia
41. Edge Biosystems Inc., Gaithersburg
42. Caelum Research Corp., Rockville
43. Vocus Inc., Lanham
44. Force 3 Inc., Crofton
45. Sytel Inc., Bethesda
46. Earth Satellite Corp., Rockville
47. Sylvan Learning System Inc., Baltimore
48. Robin Technologies Inc., Rockville
49. Information Resource Engineering Inc., Baltimore
50. Credit Management Solutions Inc., Annapolis Junction
SOURCE: Deloitte & Touche