Today in the Fortune 500: New leadership at Sears, Boeing fights for $35 billion Pentagon contract and Overstock.com games Google

February 24, 2011, 7:26 PM UTC
Debenture certificate of Sears, Roebuck and Co...
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The Fortune 500 comes out just once a year, but the companies on it make headlines every day. Here then are today’s highlights of news and happenings coming from the biggest names in business.

By Shelley DuBois, reporter

FINALLY Sears names a new CEO. The company has officially been CEO-less for three years. Sears (SHLD) could use some new blood, its revenue has declined every year since it merged with Kmart in 2005. The man for the new job is Lou D’Ambrosio, a tech executive, formerly CEO of Avaya, Inc. [Wall Street Journal]

A MILITARY CONTRACT BATTLE is going on between Boeing (BA) and a European competitor called the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS) for one of the Pentagon’s most expensive contracts. The Pentagon will provide at least $35 billion to the company that wins the contract, which will go towards making a new aerial fueling tanker. With it will come thousands of high-paying jobs, which will either go to Boeing’s facilities in Washington State and Kansas or an EADS plant that would be built in Alabama. [New York Times]

GAMING GOOGLE’S PAGERANK Overstock.com is paying the price for trying to improve its status in Google search by encouraging educational websites, those ending in “.edu,” to link keywords on the sites such as “bunk beds” and “gift baskets” to shopping pages for those items on Overstock.com. The practice helped Overstock’s PageRank on Google (GOOG), which ranks websites in Google search depending on the number and quality of links from other sites. Educational sites are considered to be more trusted links. To penalize Overstock.com, Google has knocked it down a couple notches in rank. [Wall Street Journal]

CHANGING FAST ENOUGH FOR CHINA is key for retailers looking to enter the market. Neither Best Buy (BBY) nor Home Depot (HD) could adapt their business models fast enough to suit highly price-conscious Chinese consumers, and both companies have had to shut down Chinese stores. On the flip side, companies with tremendous success in China include GM (GM) and Yum! Brands’ (YUM) KFC. [USA Today]

BUT PROFITS BACK HOME ARE A DIFFERENT STORY General Motors reported its smallest quarterly profit in a year, due to the high cost of building new cars such as the plug-in electric hybrid Chevrolet Volt. GM is revamping its lineup of cars to compete with competitors such as Ford (F), which experienced the same profit squeeze when rolling out new models. [Bloomberg]

FORD FACES RECALL for 150,000 if its F-150 trucks from the 2005-2006 model years that could have problems with spontaneously deploying the airbag. Ford says it doesn’t think the problem warrants any corrective action because the number of reported incidents were low. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that 77 injuries happened because of the F-150 airbag deploying inadvertently. The recall should take place in March. [Associated Press]