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NEW YORK -- Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, unseated Exxon Mobil Corp. at the head of this year's Fortune 500 ranking of the largest U.S. companies, which was released Thursday. Falling oil and gasoline prices hurt ExxonMobil, while consumers' growing need for low-priced necessities helped Wal-Mart, according to a report by the Associated Press.
The closely watched list, which ranks companies based on their 2009 revenue, was rife with evidence of the unsettled economy as homebuilders, automakers and energy companies slipped or disappeared in the ranking, while recession-resistant industries such as health care rose. And the ranking showed the sober reality of the companies' strategy to survive the downturn -- cutting jobs and other costs to improve profits.
Overall, total net income for the companies on the list grew 350 percent for the year -- the second-largest gain in the list's 56 years. But revenue for the Fortune 500 companies fell 8.7 percent for the year, the largest percentage decline since 1983.
Combined, the Fortune 500 companies shed 821,000 jobs during the year -- the biggest loss ever recorded by the magazine's list, according to the AP report.
For the most part, the top 10 featured familiar players. Wal-Mart has held the top seat on the ranking seven out the past nine years. Its 2009 revenue was $408 billion.
A fall in commodity prices bumped ExxonMobil down to its second-place position with revenue of $285 billion and cut at least six energy production, oil-refining and pipeline companies from the larger list. Valero Energy fell from the 10th spot to 26.
Other convenience and petroleum retailing companies making this year's list include:
-- Chevron, No. 3
-- Conoco, No.4
-- Kroger, No. 23
-- Marathon Oil, No. 41
-- Sunoco, No. 78
-- Hess, No. 79
-- CHS, No. 91
ExxonMobil Positioned for Growth