Fortune 500 – Honoring Top Performers

Started by the Time Publishing Group in 1930, Fortune magazine has earned a reputation for providing reliable, up-to-date information relating to the fast-moving world of investment and finance. It was in 1955 that Fortune magazine began compiling and printing a list of the top 500 US companies rated by gross revenue (excluding excise taxes), with financial data available to the public. This list of top-notch private and publicly-held companies, referred to as the Fortune 500, has become a much anticipated source of information regarding economic activity of US based companies, as well as being a valuable tool for investment making decisions.

When the Fortune 500 was first compiled, it was restricted to companies deriving revenue from mining, manufacturing and energy exploration. In order to include other sectors, Fortune magazine compiled another list, the Fortune 50, being a list of the 50 largest utilities, commercial banks and life insurance companies (measured by assets), as well as transportation companies (measured by revenues) and retailers (ranked by gross revenues). The Fortune 50 was later absorbed into the Fortune 500 as it is known today. It is considered to be a worthy achievement to appear on the Fortune 500 and this is often used as a marketing tool by companies included on the list – with the level of prestige mounting the closer a company gets to the top of the list. Wal-Mart and ExxonMobil have been jockeying for top position for a number of years now. In 2007 and 2008 Wal-Mart took the number one spot, with ExxonMobil in second place. In 2009 ExxonMobil pushed through to number one, with Wal-Mart in second place and this was reversed again in 2010. Other top-ten achievers in 2010 include Chevron (#3), General Electric (#4), Bank of America (#5); ConocoPhillips (#6); AT&T (#7); Ford Motor (#8); J.P. Morgan Chase (#9), Hewlett-Packard (#10).
In addition to the Fortune 500 which features publicly- and privately-owned US companies, the Fortune Global 500 ranks the top 500 corporations worldwide measured by revenue. The Fortune Global 500 includes US companies, ranking their position in a global context. Interestingly, in 2010 Wal-Mart remained in the number one position globally, with ExxonMobil coming in at third place, and Royal Dutch Shell (Netherlands) taking second place. The remaining top-ten achievers are: BP (UK) at #4; Toyota Motor (Japan) at #5; Japan Post Holdings (Japan) at #6; Sinopec (China) at #7; State Grid (China) at #8; AXA (France) at #9, and China National Petroleum (China) at #10.