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Exxon Tops Wal-Mart in Fortune 500 Ranking

April 04, 2006|From the Associated Press

NEW YORK — Skyrocketing energy prices propelled Exxon Mobil Corp. to the top of the 2006 Fortune 500 list and consigned Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to the No. 2 spot on the magazine's annual ranking of the nation's largest publicly traded companies.

Fortune compiled its list based on 2005 revenue. Exxon Mobil raked in nearly $340 billion in revenue, a 25.5% increase over 2004, and had $36.1 billion in profit, the largest of any U.S. company in history.

Exxon Mobil last appeared at No. 1 in 2001. Only Wal-Mart, Exxon Mobil and General Motors Corp. have topped the list since its inception in 1954.

Wal-Mart had $315.7 billion in revenue, a 9.5% increase from last year. Because of its pervasive U.S. presence, the world's largest retailer has struggled to sustain profit growth in the high teens as it had in previous years.

Other oil producers also rose in the rankings, boosted by crude prices that topped $70 a barrel and gasoline prices that surpassed $3 a gallon after hurricanes battered the Gulf Coast.

Both Chevron Corp. and ConocoPhillips saw their revenues jump in 2005, increasing by 28% and 37%, respectively. Chevron climbed two spots to No. 4, and Conoco edged up to No. 6 from No. 7 last year.

The major U.S. automakers showed their vulnerability as they faced declining U.S. sales and increasing benefit costs.

GM barely retained its hold on the No. 3 spot, and Ford Motor Co. slipped to fifth place from No. 4. GM's revenue decreased nearly 0.5% to $192.6 billion, while Ford's rose less than 3% to $177.2 billion.

General Electric Co. slipped two rungs to No. 7; its revenue rose 3.1% to $157.2 billion. Citigroup Inc. and American International Group Inc. followed at Nos. 8 and 9, holding their places from 2005.

IBM Corp. held on to the last spot in the top 10, although its revenue fell 5.4% to $91.1 billion.

In general, 2005 treated the top U.S. companies to big revenues and profits. The 500 brought in a combined $9.1 trillion in revenue, a 10.2% increase over last year, and $610 billion in profit, record numbers on both accounts.

Low long-term interest rates, which spurred consumer spending, and a growing global economy helped the companies to hit those records.

The global economy grew 4.25%, led by China, India and a recovering Japan.

"We really are a one-world economy," said Cait Murphy, assistant managing editor at Fortune.

"If the global economic growth is strong, then the 500 will do well, because they have substantial operations and sales abroad."

Only three of the 47 industry groups that the magazine tracks lost money last year: the airline, motor vehicle and building materials industries.

The seven airline companies on the list lost a total of $28.4 billion last year. Only Southwest Airlines Co. was profitable.

Ten of the 16 motor vehicle companies were profitable, but big losses from GM and Delphi Corp. weighed down the sector.

Pipelines, Internet services and retailing, petroleum refining and mining/crude oil production were the fastest-growing industries of 2005.

Internet services and retailing companies turned in a 125.9% increase in profit, prompting the magazine to create a new industry category.

The most notable newcomers to the 500 fell into that category, with Google Inc. debuting at No. 353, Yahoo Inc. at No. 412 and EBay Inc. at No. 458.

Profit for the three totaled $5.7 billion.

Gateway Inc. failed to make the list after appearing on it since 1993. Last year the company slid in at No. 495.

"Gateway hasn't fully recovered from the dot-com bust," Murphy said.

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Top 10 companies

The nation's 10 biggest companies, as determined by Fortune magazine based on 2005 revenue. Each entry includes company headquarters, last year's rank and revenue.

1. Exxon Mobil Corp., Irving, Texas, 2, $339.9 billion

2. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Bentonville, Ark., 1, $315.7 billion

3. General Motors Corp., Detroit, 3, $192.6 billion

4. Chevron Corp., San Ramon, Calif., 6, $189.5 billion

5. Ford Motor Co., Dearborn, Mich., 4, $177.2 billion

6. ConocoPhillips, Houston, 7, $166.7 billion

7. General Electric Co., Fairfield, Conn., 5, $157.2 billion

8. Citigroup Inc., New York, 8, $131.0 billion

9. American International Group Inc., New York, 9, $108.9 billion

10. IBM Corp., Armonk, N.Y., 10, $91.1 billion

Source: Fortune magazine

Los Angeles Times

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