General Motors Corp. regained the top spot on the Fortune 500 list of the largest U.S. industrial corporations, replacing Exxon Corp. which slipped to No. 2 in the latest rankings, the magazine said today.
Exxon held the top position on Fortune’s lists released in 1980 through 1985. It has been the only company besides GM to attain the premier ranking in the 32 years that Fortune has compiled the list.
For the first 20 years, GM reigned as the biggest U.S. industrial company among the Fortune 500 and was “widely regarded as the symbol of corporate America,” the magazine said.
Then, in 1975, Exxon dethroned the auto maker. GM took back the title in 1978 and 1979 but fell back to No. 2 again in 1980 and slid to No. 3 behind Exxon and Mobil Oil Corp. in 1981 and 1982.
The latest Fortune 500 list is based on 1985 sales. Even though GM’s profits sagged last year, its sales soared to a record level.
“The ebbing fortunes of Big Oil wrought changes all through the upper reaches of the 500 list,” the magazine said.
Mobil Corp., No. 3, was able to stay ahead of fourth-ranked Ford Motor Co. because of its acquisition of Superior Oil. But most other petroleum companies moved down in rank.
Fifth on the list was International Business Machines Corp. It was followed by Texaco Inc., Chevron Corp., American Telephone & Telegraph Co., E. I. duPont de Nemours & Co. and General Electric Co.