Courtesy of Domtar

They're not the ones you'd expect.

By Erin Griffith
June 18, 2015

The 15 companies with the fastest-growing profits in the Fortune 500 have little in common. Most of them are not in the Fortune 100, and not all of them have climbed the rankings this year. And two — MassLife and Waste Management — experienced flat revenue.


1. Starbucks

Photograph by Barbara Kinney

The Seattle-based coffee chain grew profits on its $16.4 billion in revenue by almost 250-fold in 2014. That’s more than three times the growth of the next-fastest growing company on the list. Profits at Starbucks SBUX  have surged in recent quarters as it expands its menu to offer lunch foods and beer and wine. The company, which jumped nine spots on the Fortune 500 list to No. 187, has a goal of doubling revenue from food in the next four years.


2. Calpine

Courtesy of Calpine Corporate

The Houston-based power generator company grew profits on its $8 billion in revenue by 66-fold in 2014. That’s more than four times the growth of the next-fastest growing company on the list. Profits at Calpine CPN  surged thanks to the divestiture of of six power plants and a decrease in natural gas prices last year. The company jumped 61 spots on the Fortune 500 list to No. 353.


3. Avis Budget Group

A customer waits for his car to be delivered in the garage of the Avis Budget Group at the San Francisco International Airport.
Photograph by David Paul Morris — Bloomberg via Getty Images

The New Jersey-based rental car company grew profits on its $8.5 billion in revenue by 15-fold in 2014. Profits at Avis CAR surged thanks to increased travel as we emerge from the recession. Consolidation in the industry has allowed the company to charge higher prices. Avis jumped four spots on the Fortune 500 list to No. 336.


4. Waste Management

Anousone Sudettanh, an employee of Waste Management Inc., collects garbage for the city of Seattle, Thursday, April 5, 2012. AP Photo/Ted S. Warren.
Photograph by Ted S. Warren — AP

The Houston-based waste hauler and recycling company grew profits on its $13.9 billion in revenue by 12-fold in 2014, even as sales grew a mere 0.01%. Profits at Waste Management WM surged thanks to cost-cutting initiatives. The company fell 10 spots on the Fortune 500 list to No. 207.


5. Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance

Courtesy of Massachusetts Mutual Life

The Springfield, Mass.-based mutual insurance company grew profits on its $33.5 billion in revenue by 586% in 2014. Profits at Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance surged compared to 2013, when it lost $113 in part because of the acquisition of The Hartford Retirement Plans Group for $400 million. The company jumped two spots on the Fortune 500 list to No. 94.


6. AES

Courtesy of AES

The Arlington, Va.-based utilities company grew profits on its $17.4 billion in revenue by 594% in 2014. AES AES  was hurt by a drought in Latin America but profits grew in part, because of the sale of four wind projects in the UK and a power plant in the Philippines. The company fell four spots on the Fortune 500 list to No. 178.


7. Williams

Williams’ acquisition of Access Midstream Partners in 2014 included a large portfolio of best-in-class natural gas gathering and processing assets like the Liberty compression facility in the Marcellus Shale in Towanda Township, Pennsylvania.
Courtesy of Williams

The Tulsa-based transporter of natural gas grew profits on its $7.6 billion in revenue by 391% in 2014. Profits at Williams WMB was helped by the closing of its $50 billion merger with Access Midstream Partners in early 2015. The company jumped 10 spots on the Fortune 500 list to No. 370.


8. Domtar

Rolls of paper are transported to at the Domtar Paper Co. paper mill in Rothschild, Wisconsin, U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012. Industrial production in the U.S. rose more than forecast in September, partially reversing the prior month's slump, indicating manufacturers are regaining their footing. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photograph by Daniel Acker — Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Montreal-based paper and pulp company grew profits on its $5.6 billion in revenue by 376% in 2014. Domtar UFS attributes profit growth to lower costs for planned maintenance, better productivity in pulp and paper and favorable exchange rates, among other things. The company fell one spot on the Fortune 500 list to No. 470.


9. Plains GP Holdings

Courtesy of Plains GP Holdings

The Houston-based pipeline company grew profits on its $43.5 billion in revenue by 373% in 2014. Profits at Plains GP Holdings PAGP surged thanks to higher crude oil pipeline volumes in North America, increased tariff rates, and the acquisition of a stake a the BridgeTex pipeline. The company jumped three spots on the Fortune 500 list to No. 67.


10. Hartford Financial Services Group

Courtesy of Hartford Financial Services

The Hartford-based insurance company grew profits on its $18.8 billion in revenue by 366% in 2014. Profits at Hartford Financial Services Group HIG were boosted thanks to the sale of its Japanese annuity subsidiary, Hartford Life Insurance K.K. for $963 million. The company fell 47 spots on the Fortune 500 list to No. 160.


11. Applied Materials

Technicians monitor a machine that manufactures 300mm silicon wafers at the Applied Materials Inc. Maydan Technology Center in Santa Clara, California, U.S., on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2011.
Photograph by David Paul Morris — Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Santa Clara-based semiconductor company grew profits on its $9 billion in revenue by 353% in 2014. Profits at Applied Materials AMAT surged thanks to a the growth in mobile devices and flat-panel displays. The company jumped 31 spots on the Fortune 500 list to No. 319.


12. Gilead Sciences

Photograph by David Paul Morris — Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Foster City, Calif.-based pharmaceutical company grew profits on its $24.9 billion in revenue by 318% in 2014. Profits at Gilead Sciences GILD  surged thanks to the availability of Sovaldi, the company’s hepatitis C medicine. The company jumped 132 spots on the Fortune 500 list to No. 118.


13. Goodyear Tire & Rubber

Goodyear introduced the Ultra Grip Ice WRT, a dedicated winter tire for light-trucks and SUVs, at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, using a climate laboratory that can create nearly any type of weather condition.
Courtesy of The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company

The Akron, Ohio-based motor vehicle parts company grew profits on its $18.1 billion in revenue by 293% in 2014. Profits at Goodyear GT surged thanks to lower raw material and pension costs. The company fell 19 spots on the Fortune 500 list to No. 166.


14. Voya Financial

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 23: Voya Financial Chairman and CEO Rodney O. Martin Jr. rings the NYSE Closing Bell® to highlight the Voya Born to Save program and celebrate the consumer launch of the Voya brand at The New York Stock Exchange on October 23rd, 2014 in New York City. Through the Voya Born to Save program, every baby born in the United States on October 20, 2014 is eligible to receive a $500 mutual fund investment from Voya Financial as a head start on their future retirement savings. (Photo by Josh Kuckens/NYSE)
Photograph by Ben Hider — NYSE

The New York City-based insurance company formerly known as ING, grew profits on its $11 billion in revenue by 289% in 2014. Profits at Voya Financial VOYA surged thanks to the divestiture of its U.S. subsidiary. The company makes its debut on the Fortune 500 list this year at No. 268.


15. Cardinal Health

Courtesy of Cardinal Health

The Dublin, Ohio-based drug maker and medical supply company grew profits on its $91 billion in revenue by 283% in 2014. Profits at Cardinal Health CAH surged thanks to strong sales in its pharmaceutical distribution business. The company fell four spots on the Fortune 500 list to No. 26.

To see the full Fortune 500 list, visit fortune.com/fortune500.

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