Wal-Mart Stores Inc. shrugged off weak consumer spending to remain atop the 2008 Fortune 500 list, edging out Exxon Mobil Corp. for the second straight year in the magazine’s annual ranking of the nation’s largest publicly traded companies.
Fortune compiled its list based on companies’ 2007 revenue. Wal-Mart raked in $378.8 billion in revenue last year, up 7.9% compared with 2006, and had $12.7 billion in profit, according to the list. The discount retailer has topped the list six times in the last seven years, having been unseated only by Exxon Mobil.
Though consumer spending fell sharply last year, Wal-Mart weathered the slowdown better than other retailers as shoppers traded down to cheaper stores amid a difficult economy, falling home values and increased unemployment.
Because the list is based on revenue rather than profit, Wal-Mart came in ahead of Exxon Mobil, which was a close second with $372.8 billion but far outdistanced the retailer in earnings, with a record $40.6 billion.
Exxon Mobil’s windfall was boosted by rising energy demand and geopolitical instability that this year have pushed crude oil prices above $115 a barrel and gasoline prices to an average of $3.50 a gallon. Exxon Mobil last topped the Fortune 500 list in 2006.
Collectively, revenue for all companies listed reached $10.6 trillion last year, up 7.1% from 2006. However, profit dropped 17.8% over the same period, falling to $645.2 billion amid rising expenses, including the price of oil.
Skyrocketing energy prices also helped other oil producers claim several of this year’s top spots. ChevronTexaco Corp. moved up one place to No. 3 with $210.8 billion in revenue and $18.7 billion in profit. ConocoPhillips stayed the same at No. 5.
Declining U.S. auto sales battered General Motors Corp., which fell one position to No. 4 on revenue of $182.3 billion and a loss of $38.7 billion.
General Electric Co. came in sixth, followed by Ford Motor Co. in seventh place, Citigroup Inc. at No. 8 and Bank of America Corp. at No. 9. AT&T; Inc. cracked the top 10, moving from No. 27 to 10th place.
Companies capitalizing on a global commodities boom were among the biggest winners of 2007. Freeport-MacMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. shot from No. 398 in 2006 to No. 140, the biggest leap among all companies.
Among the biggest losers were home builders and saving institutions, which were buffeted by fallout from the sub-prime mortgage crisis that began rattling global markets late last year. Home builders and saving institutions saw revenue plummet, according to Fortune.
New additions to the list included Kraft Foods Inc., Symantec Corp., PetSmart Inc. and BlackRock Inc., while those knocked from the list included H&R; Block Inc., Hilton Hotels, RadioShack Corp. and Lucent Technologies.
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Top California companies in the Fortune 500
3. Chevron, San Ramon
14. Hewlett-Packard, Palo Alto
18. McKesson, San Francisco
41. Wells Fargo, San Francisco
55. Safeway, Pleasanton
60. Intel, Santa Clara
67. Walt Disney, Burbank
69. Ingram Micro, Santa Ana
71. Cisco Systems, San Jose
76. Northrop Grumman, Century City
Source: Fortune magazine