The railroad operator’s 21,000 miles of track touch 23 states (plus D.C. and Canada) and more than 70 ports in the U.S. Though its revenues and profits were flat — $11.8 billion and $1.9 billion, respectively — CSX (No. 231) boasts a safety record for 2012: the lowest rate of personal injury in the company’s history. The railroad titan is in the midst of building the National Gateway, a public-private project that will improve links between Mid-Atlantic ports and the Midwest for freight trains. The company will spend $575 million on the improvements, which are slated for completion in 2015.
Walt Disney (No. 66) may have been built on the back of a cartoon mouse, but today its Parks and Media Networks divisions — not its pixie dust — are what power the company’s sales performance, which reached a record $42.3 billion in 2012. Profits rose dramatically (by 18%, to $5.7 billion), boosted by the cable networks business that hosts Disney’s star, ESPN. In March chairman and CEO Bob Iger steered Disney to a galaxy far, far away when the company purchased LucasFilm for $4.06 billion. It will release a new Star Wars movie in 2015.
Founded in 1988, the asset-management firm has grown into the world’s largest, thanks to a slew of deals, including the purchases of Merrill Lynch Investment Managers in 2006 and Barclays Global Investors in 2009. Last summer’s retirement of co-founding partner and vice chairman Sue Wagner, who oversaw BlackRock’s M&A business, signaled an end to the firm’s acquisition strategy. Chairman and CEO Larry Fink is now restructuring the company, hoping to spur investor deposits instead of large-scale acquisitions. BlackRock (No. 286) ended 2012 on a high note: The company closed the year managing a record $3.792 trillion in assets.
With more than 500 beverage brands, Coca-Cola (No. 57) has successfully quieted talk of a cola war with PepsiCo (No. 43), whose revenue growth now stems from markets beyond carbonated drinks. Sure, obesity awareness is on the rise, causing sales in developed markets like the U.S. to slow (to 2%), but Coke and Diet Coke remain Americans’ favorite soft drinks. Four years ago chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent revealed 2020 Vision — his plan to double the company’s sales in a decade — and it looks as if Coke is on track: 2012 revenues hit a record $48 billion, fueled by the Coca-Cola brand’s growth in emerging markets like India and Thailand.
The 10 Smithsonian buildings surrounding the National Mall, as well as their sister museums in Washington, D.C., New York City, and Virginia, saw 30 million visitors in 2012. The iconic 167-year-old institution, which holds everything from Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers to Prince’s guitar to Louis Armstrong’s trumpet (all pictured), broke ground on the National Museum for African American History and Culture, acquired the space shuttle Discovery, and raised a record $223 million this past year. The board of regents — made up of an appointed official, seven elected officials, and nine citizens — is now gearing up for a national fundraising campaign in 2014.
Professionals used to flock to LinkedIn (LNKD) just to share their résumés with colleagues — as well as possible future employers. But the online social business network, which went public in 2011, now offers its more than 200 million users posts from the likes of Arianna Huffington, Richard Branson, and Barack Obama, who write on topics of their choosing. (Board members persuaded several of their powerful friends to join LinkedIn’s Influencers platform.) The initiatives created greater value, which boosted engagement. Revenues, the bulk of which come from the company’s recruiting tools, increased 86% in 2012, topping off at $972.3 million.