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Despite a sluggish economy and a battered consumer, America’s largest companies had a record-breaking year in 2011. The latest issue of Fortune magazine revealed the annual list of America’s top 500 corporations. In 2011, the combined profit of all 500 companies totaled $824.5 billion, representing a 16.4 percent increase over 2010. Last year’s profit total also beat the previous record of $785 billion, set in 2006 during the market melt up.
Andy Serwer, Fortune magazine managing editor, explained, “Corporate America is doing great right now. The consumer in America, not so great. Government in the United States, not so well. But businesses are doing well. They’ve really come out of the downturn, doing things right. They’re in good shape. A lot of that has to do with the fact that they’ve cut back. They’ve cut costs during the downturn meaning layoffs quite frankly. That’s why profits are so high.” Employees account for 70 percent of costs for the Fortune 500.
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Higher energy prices certainly helped the top performers. Three out of the top 4 on the list were oil companies. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) ranked 17, compared to 35 in 2010. Although Apple is the third most profitable company on the list, Fortune ranks the companies according to revenue. To little surprise, there are no home builders on the list, compared to 11 in 2007.
Here are the top 10 Fortune 500 companies:
Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE:XOM): The energy giant took the top spot with revenues of $452.9 billion. Year-to-date, shares are flat.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE:WMT): The world’s largest retailer dropped one place from the previous year. Wal-Mart’s revenues in 2011 totaled $446.9 billion. Shares are down almost 1 percent year-to-date.
Chevron Corp. (NYSE:CVX): The second largest oil and gas company in the U.S. reported its biggest profit decline in two years, but managed to rake in $245.6 billion. Shares are down almost 3 percent for 2012.
ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP): The Houston-based oil company held the fourth spot again in 2011 with revenue of $237.2 billion. Shares have slid almost 27 percent year-to-date.
General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM): The distressed auto company jumped three spots to rank fifth. In 2011, the company brought in $150.2 billion in revenue. After declining 45 percent in 2011, shares have bounced 11 percent higher in 2012.
General Electric Co. (NYSE:GE): The company brought in sales of $147.6 billion for 2011, a 2.6 percent decrease from the prior year. However, earnings increased 21 percent. Shares have gained about 8 percent year-to-date.
Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRKA): The Warren Buffett led company held onto the seventh slot by posting revenues of $143.7 billion in 2011. Shares have gained almost 8 percent year-to-date.
Fannie Mae: New accounting rules have helped this government-controlled mortgage company jump to the top ten on the list. In 2010, the company ranked 81, but now sits in eighth place. Revenue for 2011 came in at $137.5 billion.
Ford Motor Co. (NYSE:F): The auto giant moved up one stop from the prior year by posting revenues of $136.3 billion. Shares of the company are flat for year after falling 36 percent in 2011.
Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE:HPQ): The world’s largest computer manufacturer cracked the top ten in 2011 by bringing in $127.2 billion of revenues. Shares of the company are down 7 percent this year.
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