Spencer Platt — Getty Images
By Jill Hamburg Coplan
June 30, 2015

Go West. That’s one message of this year’s Fortune 500 when considered geographically. California is in third place when it comes to the number of Fortune 500 companies headquartered in the state (53), lagging behind New York (with 55) and Texas (with 54) – but the list’s center of gravity is decidedly western. California’s companies lead in market cap, sales, and job creation, thanks to booming tech and biotech sectors.

Overall, nearly 44% — 219 — of America’s Fortune 500 companies have their headquarters in these 5 states. California’s Fortune 500 companies’ aggregate market cap — $3.7 trillion, up from $3.2 trillion last year – now accounts for 21% of the Fortune 500, a larger share than any other state. Credit the many California’s tech companies, whose ranking on the list rocketed higher this year: Gilead(GILD), Salesforce.com(CRM), Facebook(FB), and Netflix(NFLX) among them. And California companies bucked the flat sales trend at Fortune 500 companies in the top five states. Sales in California’s companies rose $100 million in aggregate, thanks again to the tech boom.

Another notable geographic shift: After Illinois, which again places fourth in how many Fortune 500 companies it hosts (34), Ohio replaces New Jersey at number five in revenue, thanks to list members including Procter & Gamble(PG), Corning Glass(GLW) and the state’s now-biggest company, Kroger(KR), a grocery chain that has grown through both acquisition and expansion. Experts say Ohio generally has diversified its economic base since the recession, adding to its advanced manufacturing more research and development, and attracting Chinese investment.


Another theme this year: Texas-based companies overall manage to sustain profitability despite the tribulations of falling oil prices amid a global oversupply. Cheap gas has cost the oil giants billions of dollars. Yet Texas’ petroleum-based Fortune 500 companies have retained their super-profitability often through layoffs, squeezing more from their workforces, and by cutting back some on major exploration and construction projects.

Mirroring the bull market, Fortune 500 companies’ market cap rose in the top five top states, buoyed by low interest rates and corporate stock buy-backs — especially in standout California. Market value climbed most in the Golden State – by 14% – thanks to tech and life sciences. The other top states’ Fortune 500 companies, together, posted single-digit gains: 9% in Ohio, 8% in Illinois, 4% in Texas, and 2% in New York. Value in New York, in aggregate, rose $50 million — a fraction of California’s $400 million in total gains. Fortune 500 company profits rose in Texas and California, pushed again by the tech and petroleum sectors; in New York, a gain in overall profitability was helped by recovering financial sector companies including JPMorgan Chase(JPYYL) and MetLife(MET).

Job growth was nearly nonexistent in most of the top five states’ Fortune 500 companies. In number one New York, jobs shrank 5% at Fortune 500 companies. Still, New York tops the list in aggregate number of jobs, at 2.86 million. (It has held that top spot for jobs the past decade.) Texas surprises as the jobs exception: Even with the volatility in its dominant oil sector, jobs at Texan Fortune 500 companies grew 4%. That growth was in line with the national trend (the Department of Labor counted 3 million jobs added the year to April 2015, a fourth straight year of solid, moderate gains).


Here are the largest companies in the top 5 states.



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