Big Lots, Hertz, and beer and wine maker Constellation Brands are back in the big leagues.
America loves a good comeback story. This year’s Fortune 500 ranking features 14 companies that are returning after a year’s—or in some cases a decade’s—absence. For this mix of seasoned veterans and well-bred newborns, second chances at success are hardly a myth. And as always, revenue—or, going by its original French meaning, a “return”—is the name of the game.
1. Performance Food Company
Fortune 500 Rank: No. 185
Last Appearance: No. 393 in 2007
This Virginia-based foodservice distributor reclaims an enviable position among the Fortune 500 after an acquisition by Wellspring Capital and Blackstone took the company private in 2008. Despite an underwhelming IPO in October 2015, the Virginia-based company served up $15.27 billion in revenue last year.
2. Hertz Global Holdings
Fortune 500 Rank: No. 269
Last Appearance: No. 264 in 2014
Hertz’s return owes less to robust performance than a 2014 accounting debacle that stalled the car rental company from filing with the SEC. This year, Hertz returns at No. 269 with a 5% decline in revenue in 2015.
3. Constellation Brands
Fortune 500 Rank: No. 429
Last Appearance: No. 459 in 2008
Constellation Brands—producer of Corona, Modelo, and Robert Mondavi—ascends from last year’s post at No. 530 to No. 429. Its hundred-spot climb follows a billion-dollar acquisition of California craft brewer Ballast Point, known for its India pale ales, in November 2015.
4. WEC Energy Group
Fortune 500 Rank: No. 437
Last Appearance: No. 471 in 2005 (as Wisconsin Energy Corporation)
WEC Energy Group—formerly known as “Wisconsin Energy Corporation”—was born in 2015 after the energy company acquired Integrys Energy (which ranked No. 404 on the 2014 list). This union made WEC Energy Group the eighth largest natural gas distribution company in the country, and has catapulted the company up the leagues of the Fortune 500 after over a decade’s absence.
5. Frontier Communications
Fortune 500 Rank: No. 461
Last Appearance: No. 492 in 2013
Former Verizon customers in California, Florida, and Texas are among the reasons for Frontier’s recent growth. The communication service provider returns to the Fortune 500 after a $10.5 billion acquisition of wireline assets from Verizon in February 2015 upped Frontier’s reach from 26 states to 29.
Fortune 500 Rank: No. 484
Last Appearance: No. 498 in 2014
In a transatlantic merging of giants, Air Liquide, the French industrial gas company and world leader in gases, acquired the American gas industry leader for $10.3 billion last year. The takeover has awarded the European company a formidable share of a resilient U.S. gas market, and also primed Airgas for handsome growth at home.
7. Simon Property Group
Fortune 500 Rank: No. 488
Last Appearance: No. 479 in 2014
Simon Property Group—the nation’s biggest real estate investment trust (and largest shopping mall owner)—has moved up the ranks after a year of strong performance. In spite of a failed $16.8 billion bid to take over the Santa Monica mall operator Maserich Co. last April, Simon tallied a net income of $1.8 billion in 2015.
8. Rockwell Collins
Fortune 500 Rank: No. 490
Last Appearance: No. 496 in 2012
The Iowa-based aerospace and technology company is making a comeback after four continuous years of profit decline. Thanks to a stabilization in government and military sales—as well as a 6% boost in commercial sales—the company moved into the black last year with 5% growth in revenue, totaling $5.24 billion.
Fortune 500 Rank: No. 492
Last Appearance: No. 491 in 2010
Fiserv previously appeared on the Fortune 500 for four consecutive years, from 2006 to 2010. The financial services technology company returns this year with 2015 revenue of $4.95 billion — up 4% from the previous year.
10. Big Lots
Fortune 500 Rank: No. 495
Last Appearance: No. 473 in 2014
The discount retailer just barely missed the cut-off for last year (previous rank: No. 501). Still, a good year (robust furniture sales in particular) has nudged the company into the Fortune 500 once more, where it had enjoyed a slot for 19 years. Big Lots’ revenue for 2015—$5.19 billion—may seem a modest uptick from sales in 2014 ($5.18 billion). Still, it’s a welcome rebound after four straight years of dwindling sales.
11. Telephone & Data Systems
Fortune 500 Rank: No. 496
Last Appearance: No. 468 in 2013
This Chicago-based telecom company, otherwise known as TDS, serves broadband, cable television, and telephone services to 6 million customers nationwide. With nearly $4 billion in revenue and $5.12 million in sales over 2015, a strong year of performance has buoyed the company back up the ranks of the Fortune 500.
12. First American Financial
Fortune 500 Rank: No. 497
Last Appearance: No. 499 in 2014
First American, a leading title insurance and settlement services provider, enjoyed an 11% boost in revenue, netting $5.2 billion over 2015. In addition to regaining its stride after backsliding to No. 554 last year, the California-based company has also been named to this year’s list of Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For.
Fortune 500 Rank: No. 498
Last Appearance: No. 464 in 2008
Headquartered in Reston, Virginia, NVR operates homebuilding and mortgage banking businesses in 15 states. Despite tumbling off the Fortune 500 during the nadir of the Great Recession, the company recorded a revenue of $5.2 billion last year—a formidable jump of 16% from the previous year.
14. Cincinnati Financial
Fortune 500 Rank: No. 499
Last Appearance: No. 459 in 2008
Cincinnati Financial, a property and casualty insurer, returns to the list at No. 499 after seven years’ absence. Strong underwriting profits in 2015 helped to amass the company a 3.8% year-over-year increase in revenue, amounting to the tune of $5.14 billion.
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