THREE Singapore firms have made it to Forbes Asia's "Best Under a Billion" 2014 list, which pays tribute to the top small and medium-sized public companies in the region earning between US$5 million and US$1 billion in annual sales.

The number is down from seven last year, bringing the Republic to second-last place among 11 Asia-Pacific countries in terms of entries.

One of the three companies is Cogent Holdings, a mainboard-listed transport and storage services firm that reportedly raked in US$90 million in sales and US$12 million in net income in its latest fiscal year.

Benson Tan, deputy chief executive officer (CEO) of Cogent Holdings, said that he first heard the news from The Business Times yesterday, and was pleasantly surprised by Forbes' recognition of the company.

"I'm not sure how we made the list," he said, laughing. "But we have worked hard and our results show for it."

He added that Cogent has plans to expand into the region - starting with Malaysia - and is now exploring opportunities.

It will continue to focus on its core logistics business, and its new 1.5 million sq ft logistics hub - containing the world's first rooftop storage facility - is expected to be completed later this year, Mr Tan said.

Tan Pong Tyea, CEO of Falcon Energy Group - the second Singapore company to make the list - expressed delight at the news but also noted there are challenges facing the company in the "ever-evolving business environment of the offshore oil and gas sector".

"Moving forward, we will expand our fleet of offshore support vessels, oilfield services and project works to serve a wider range of customers. At the same time, we want to establish our drilling and energy resources businesses," Falcon's Mr Tan said.

Falcon Energy, an offshore oil and natural gas exploration firm, reportedly brought in sales of some US$351 million and a net income of US$61 million.

The third Singapore company on the list is Hong Fok, a retail and residential property firm with US$183 million in sales and US$285 million in net income.

Last year, the seven Singapore companies that were honoured by Forbes Asia include Baker Technology, First Resources, Memstar Technology, Miclyn Express Offshore, Sino Grandness Food Industry, Super Group and Wee Hur Holdings.

Tim Ferguson, editor of Forbes Asia, said: "In the economic ebb and flow that determine the sectors and therefore many of the companies that make up each year's list, we see places rise and fall as hosts of great enterprises."

China and Hong Kong, which collectively form Greater China, continued to top the list this year with 85 companies making the cut, up from 63 a year ago.

Second-placed Taiwan showed a healthy jump to 31 entries this year from the previous year's 26, while Malaysia came in fifth with 14 entries - the top South-east Asian country on the list.

Pakistan took the last spot this year, with just one company - cement producer Lucky Cement - making the list.

Forbes Asia's "Best Under A Billion" list honours 200 publicly-traded companies in Asia-Pacific chosen from a universe of 17,000 companies based on sales growth, earnings growth and return on equity in the past 12 months and over three years.