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This year's Fortune 500 marks the 61st running of the list. Wal-Mart claims the top spot again.

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Methodology

Companies are ranked by total revenues for their respective fiscal years. Included in the survey are companies that are incorporated in the U.S. and operate in the U.S. and file financial statements with a government agency. This includes private companies and cooperatives that file a 10-K or a comparable financial statement with a government agency, and mutual insurance companies that file with state regulators. It also includes companies that file with a government agency but are owned by private companies, domestic or foreign, that do not file such financial statements. Excluded are private companies not filing with a government agency; companies incorporated outside the U.S.; and U.S. companies consolidated by other companies, domestic or foreign, that file with a government agency. Also excluded are companies that failed to report full financial statements for at least three quarters of the current fiscal year. Percent change calculations for revenue, net income, and earnings per share are based on data as originally reported. They are not restated for mergers, acquisitions, or accounting changes. The only changes to the prior years' data are for significant restatement due to reporting errors that require a company to file an amended 10-K.

Revenues

Revenues are as reported, including revenues from discontinued operations when published. If a spinoff is on the list, it has not been included in discontinued operations. Revenues for commercial banks and savings institutions are interest and noninterest revenues. Revenues for insurance companies include premium and annuity income, investment income, and capital gains or losses, but exclude deposits. Revenues figures for all companies include consolidated subsidiaries and exclude excise taxes. Data shown are for the fiscal year ended on or before Jan. 31, 2015. Unless otherwise noted, all figures are for the year ended Dec. 31, 2014.

Profits

Profits are shown after taxes, extraordinary credits or charges, cumulative effects of accounting changes, and noncontrolling interests (including subsidiary preferred dividends), but before preferred dividends of the company. Figures in parentheses indicate a loss. Profit declines of more than 100% reflect swings from 2013 profits to 2014 losses. Profits for real estate investment trusts, partnerships, and cooperatives are reported but are not comparable with those of the other companies on the list because they are not taxed on a comparable basis. Profits for mutual insurance companies are based on statutory accounting.

Balance Sheet

Assets are the company’s year-end total. Total stockholders’ equity is the sum of all capital stock, paid-in capital, and retained earnings at the company’s year-end. Excluded is equity attributable to noncontrolling interests. Also excluded is redeemable preferred stock whose redemption is either mandatory or outside the company’s control. Dividends paid on such stock have been subtracted from the profit figures used in calculating return on equity.

Employees

The figure shown is a fiscal year-end number as published by the company in its annual report. Where the breakdown between full- and part-time employees is supplied, a part-time employee is counted as one-half of a full-time employee.

Earnings Per Share

The figure shown for each company is the diluted earnings-per-share figure that appears on the income statement. Per-share earnings are adjusted for stock splits and stock dividends. Though earnings-per-share numbers are not marked by footnotes, if a company’s profits are footnoted it can be assumed that earnings per share is affected as well. The five-year and 10-year earnings-growth rates are the annual rates, compounded.

Total Return to Investors

Total return to investors includes both price appreciation and dividend yield to an investor in the company’s stock. The figures shown assume sales at the end of 2014 of stock owned at the end of 2004, 2009, and 2013. It has been assumed that any proceeds from cash dividends and stock received in spinoffs were reinvested when they were paid. Returns are adjusted for stock splits, stock dividends, recapitalizations, and corporate reorganizations as they occurred; however, no effort has been made to reflect the cost of brokerage commissions or of taxes.

Total-return percentages shown are the returns received by the hypothetical investor described above. The five-year and 10-year returns are the annual rates, compounded.

Medians

No attempt has been made to calculate median figures in the tables for groups of fewer than four companies. The medians for profit changes from 2013 to 2014 do not include companies that lost money in 2013 or lost money in both 2013 and 2014, because no meaningful percentage changes can be calculated in such cases.

Credits

This Fortune 500 Directory was prepared under the direction of list editor Scott DeCarlo. Income statement and balance sheet data provided by the companies were reviewed and verified against published earnings releases, 10-K filings, and annual reports by reporter Douglas G. Elam and accounting specialists Richard K. Tucksmith and Rhona Altschuler. Markets editor Kathleen Smyth used those same sources to check the data for earnings per share. In addition, she used data provided by Thomson Reuters and S&P Capital IQ to calculate total return and market capitalization. Database administrator Larry Shine provided technical support. Edith Fried reviewed and edited nonstatistical information. Researchers Viki Goldman and Kathleen Lyons assisted with the data gathering and verification. The data verification process was aided substantially by information provided by S&P Capital IQ. Other sources used were: FactSet Research Systems, Hoover’s and Morningstar Document Research.

f500

This year's Fortune 500 marks the 61st running of the list. In total, the Fortune 500 companies account for $12.5 trillion in revenues, $945 billion in profits, $17 trillion in market value and employ 26.8 million people worldwide.

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54.

Caterpillar

Last year's Rank: 49
Part of a fleet of Caterpillar 773 Mining Trucks at a large strip mine site in China.
Courtesy of Caterpillar
Big machine manufacturer Caterpillar emphasized cost management and cash flow during 2014 to drive up profits. Machinery, energy, and transportation sales for the year were the third highest in Caterpillar's 90-year history, though overall revenue dipped for the second consecutive year from a high in 2012, and operating profit was down as well. Profit per share rose by 13 cents year-over-year to $5.88, which was down by nearly three dollars from its $8.48 high in 2012. The declines are an effect of the steep decline in oil prices, since oil and mining companies (Caterpillar's biggest clients) have invested less in new manufacturing equipment. In an earning call earlier this year, Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman says he excpted a sales decline of 9% for 2015.
strengths
  • The company has been making efforts to cut costs in the wake of declining oil prices leading to lower sales
  • Overseas expansions in China, India and Brazil
weaknesses
  • Caterpillar is at the whim of the oil and mining industry for its sales, so when they're suffering, it does as well
opportunities
  • While growth in Europe has been slowing, it can focus energies on other markets, such as in Asia
threats
  • With oil prices down, there's less money to purchase what Caterpillar has to offer
  • Sales are declining and are expected to be down nearly 10% for the year

Key Financials (last fiscal year)

$ millions % change
Revenues ($M) 55184 0%
Profits ($M) 3695 -2%
Total Stockholder Equity 16746
Employees 114233
Market Value (as of March 31, 2015) 48512

Profit Ratios

Profit as % of Revenues 6%
Profits as % of Assets 4%
Profits as % of Stockholder Equity 22%

Earnings Per Share

Earnings Per Share ($) 5
EPS % Change (from 2013) 2%
EPS % Change (5 year annual rate) 32%
EPS % Change (10 year annual rate) 7%

Total Return

Total Return to Investors (2014) 3%
Total Return to Investors (5 year, annualized) 12%
Total Return to Investors (10 year, annualized) 9%

Company Info

CEO Douglas R. Oberhelman
Industry Construction and Farm Machinery
Sector Industrials
HQ Location Peoria, IL
Website http://www.caterpillar.com
Years on List 21
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