More insights into the larger world from the new Fortune 500:
The new kings. For the first 47 years of the 500, from 1955 through 2001, only two companies ranked No. 1. They were General Motors and Exxon, cars and gasoline, asset-heavy industrial mammoths that defined an age. The pattern was finally broken in 2002 when a retailer, Walmart, outsold both of them and became the new No. 1, which it is again this year. A closer look reveals how the 500 reflects a deeply changed U.S. economy.
Energy is a smaller presence. While Exxon is still No. 2 in the ranking, which is based on revenue, only one other energy company, Chevron, is in the top 25. Healthcare has become a huge new force in the 500 with three of the top seven companies: McKesson, UnitedHealth Group, and CVS Health. A look at profits by industry shows that healthcare is the third-largest contributor in the 500. The second-largest is technology, and the largest is financials – today’s kings of the 500 and arguably of the economy.
-Berkshire Hathaway’s remarkable rise. Warren Buffett’s company was No. 293 in our ranking 20 years ago. Today it’s No. 4. Everyone marvels at the long-term performance of Berkshire stock (appreciation since 1964: 1,598,284%), but the Fortune 500 perspective reminds us that Buffett has achieved this wonder the old-fashioned way. Berkshire’s ranking here barely reflects his famous “Big Four” investments in the shares of Coca-Cola, American Express, Wells Fargo, and IBM; he never sells those shares, but Berkshire’s revenue includes the dividends they pay. Rather it’s based mostly on the companies that Berkshire owns outright, mainly insurance companies (GEICO is the best known) and also including the BNSF railroad, Acme Brick, and Precision Castparts. Asset-heavy industrial companies like those last three may be a shrinking part of the economy, but they aren’t dead. You just have to know how to pick ’em.
-Who’s No. 2? Several industries are led by famous companies, but naming the industry’s second-largest is often a challenge. America’s largest retailer is of course Walmart, but who’s No. 2? Amazon? Sears, as it was 20 years ago? Home Depot, as it was more recently? Nope. It’s Costco, though it’s still less than one-fourth Walmart’s size.
The biggest tech company is obviously Apple (No. 3 on the 500), but you’ll probably never guess who’s second. If we deem Amazon a retailer rather than a tech company, then No. 2 is HP, the deeply unglamorous post-split part of Hewlett-Packard that makes printers and personal computers.
One more: We classify Berkshire Hathaway as an insurance company, so it’s the biggest in the industry. As for the second-biggest, there was a clue a couple of paragraphs back. The surprising answer is UnitedHealth Group, No. 6 in this year’s 500.
The trove of useful information in the new 500 is seemingly endless. For two extremely engaging ways to visualize much of it, check out these graphics.
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What We’re Reading Today
National Amusements tries to block sale of Paramount
Sumner Redstone‘s company raised the hurdle Viacom must clear to sell Paramount Pictures by requiring a unanimous vote from the board. National Amusements (which owns 80% of Viacom’s voting shares) passed the rule due to Redstone’s opposition to the Paramount sale. CEO Philippe Dauman wants a deal for Paramount to close by June 30; Viacom called the National Amusements’ decision “invalid.” Los Angeles Times
Verizon to bid $3 billion for Yahoo web business
Lowell McAdam‘s company made the bid for Yahoo’s internet business last night, as the deadline for second round offers arrived. Private equity firm TPG Capital was also expected to submit a second-round bid. Marissa Mayer‘s company will likely hold a third round of bidding, which could change the numbers, but Verizon has long been considered a favorite to acquire the business. Fortune
Nike starts to compete against its athletes
As the battle for athletes between Nike and its competitors grows even more heated, the sports apparel company is now suing an Olympic runner for signing a deal with New Balance Athletics. Mark Parker‘s Nike says that runner Boris Berian violated its agreement by signing a deal to wear New Balance shoes. It’s highlighting the efforts Nike is taking to prevent more athletes from wearing other makers’ shoes at the Olympics. WSJ
Fed signals willingness to wait on rate hike
Citing the recent poor job creation numbers, Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen hinted that the rate hike may be delayed. She reiterated that the increases will occur, but analysts said that her tone was more dovish than it had been in recent speeches. NPR
Building a Better Leader
To fake it when you’re feeling uneasy…
…in a new job, look for ways to make small improvements. Expecting to shine right off the bat will likely lead to failure. Harvard Business Review
GE is considering scrapping the annual raise
The practice was pioneered by former CEO Jack Welch. The company may also replace the five-point scale it uses to rank its employees. Fortune
Law firm’s salary increases…
…for the first time in nearly 10 years. One of the industry’s most elite firms, Cravath, Swaine & Moore, raised its first-year salaries by $20,000, signaling to competitors to do the same. Above the Law
Hillary Clinton clinches nomination
After a strong showing in the Puerto Rico primary and securing more commitments from superdelegates yesterday, Clinton now has 2,384 delegates in her camp, which is one more than needed for nomination. It comes as six states—including delegate-rich California—host primaries today. She will become the first woman to win a presidential nomination from a major political party, although it doesn’t appear as if Bernie Sanders is ready to concede. CNN
Trump tries to gain support for attacking judge
In a conference call, Donald Trump tried to wrestle support in his attacks against U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel by providing talking points against Curiel to supporters. The presumptive GOP nominee claimed Curiel has a conflict of interest in presiding over the Trump University case because he is of Mexican heritage. GOP Senate candidates and even Newt Gingrich, who’s rumored as a potential running mate, have criticized Trump for his comments. WSJ
GOP unveils plan to replace Dodd-Frank
House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling will introduced a new bill to give Wall Street regulation a makeover. It would undo many of the policies within the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. While the proposal is unlikely to move very far now, it could become the skeleton for a Republican post-election effort. The Hill
Up or Out
Cisco executives Mario Mazzola, Prem Jain, Luca Cafiero, and Soni Jiandani are all leaving the company. InfoWorld
Tyco CIO John Repko will serve as CIO after the company’s merger with Johnson Controls is finalized. WSJ
Fortune Reads and Videos
Samsung’s foldable phone may hit the market in 2017
Mass production of the screens will start in the second half of this year now that a prototype has been built. Fortune
This year’s Fortune 500 list has 51 tech companies
Growth potential is often more important than revenues for these businesses. Fortune
Inside Tesla’s new battery factory
It’s a big gamble for Elon Musk. Tesla needs the factory to reduce the cost of the batteries by a third to sell the Model 3 at $35,000. Fortune
You can now order Wingstop…
…via Facebook Messenger. Fortune
On this day…
“According to the news, we are on the brink of a historic, historic, unprecedented moment but we still have work to do don’t we? We have six elections tomorrow and we are going to fight hard for every single vote especially right here in California.” —Hillary Clinton NBC News