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Fortune 500 review

Wal-Mart still the biggest company in the US

Fortune 500 review

Fortune Magazine in its 15 June 2016 issue listed America’s largest corporations. With elaborate research, the magazine has presented data ranking American companies on their performance in various parameters.

I looked at the ability of top companies to keep their position, improve or lose it. Wal-Mart, the retail giant with revenue of $ 482.1 billion maintained its Number One position. It was way ahead of the second in line company Exxon Mobil, which had a revenue of $ 246.2 billion.

I was looking back at the sectors reaching and maintaining the top rank. For several years in the 1970s and earlier, the automobile industry ruled at the top. For years, General Motors, Ford and Chrysler occupied the top three positions. Post the 1971 oil crisis and with the massive increase in oil prices, oil companies moved to the top of the rankings. Exxon occupied this position for several years. Later, Wal-Mart, the retail phenomenon, replaced the oil majors despite the massive increase in the price of oil. For several years now, Wal-Mart has been holding the top position.

In the top 10 ranking, Apple  (with revenue of close to $ 234 billion) is placed at the third position. Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, with revenue of $ 211 billion, arrives one slot lower. McKesson, United Health group and CVS health, all from the healthcare and insurance sectors, occupy the next three positions. Automobile companies General Motors and Ford Motors held the 8th and 9th slots; telecom giant AT&T rounded off the top 10 list. Surprisingly, General Electric, which held the eighth rank in the previous year, has been pushed to the eleventh position. The next ten largest companies saw names like Verizon, Chevron, Costco, Fannie Mae, Amazon and HP.

In the past years, I used to notice a vast gap between General Motors and Ford Motors, which occupied the first and second positions. In 2015, this gap has narrowed significantly with less than $ 3 billion separating the two auto giants.  

In terms of profit, Apple was at the top with the profit of $ 53.39 billion. An interesting aspect is that Apple’s profit alone is ahead of Walt Disney’s entire revenue ($ 52.46 billion and a ranking of 53 in the Fortune 500 list).

Over a 10 year span, Apple has maintained its enormous growth in profits. During 2005-15, Apple recorded an annual rate of increase in EPS of 45.2 per cent and 32.6 per cent revenue growth, a record not matched by any other company.

In the tradition of capitalist countries, there has been an intense race among businesses that have surged ahead of others: as many as 29 companies have arrived into the list either as newcomers or have returned through better performance. Fortune has also listed 55 top money losers, some of them losing heavily. Apache, ranked 388, lost as much as $ 23 billion in just a year.

The analysis covered growth in profits, growth in revenues, most profitable companies, companies that got the best returns on investments, on market capitalisation, return to shareholders – indeed a humongous volume of data well-researched and well-presented.

Of interest to media, Omnicom group led advertising and marketing with revenues of $ 15.13 billion followed by the Interpublic group with revenue of $ 7.61 billion.

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