Here Are the Fortune 500’s 10 Most Successful Companies
The word “successful” might be an understatement when it comes to the Fortune 500’s top 10 companies in 2016.
While they make up just 2% of the companies on the list, the combined revenue of the top 10 reached $2.2 trillion last year, accounting for 18.2% of the total $12.1 trillion earned by the 500 list companies.
The results of the Fortune 500 companies reflected the slow but steady growth of the economy at large. Their combined revenues rose by 0.5%, or $61 billion, over 2015. The total number of people employed at Fortune 500 firms, meanwhile, hit a record high, with 28.2 million net employees, up 1% from a year earlier.
Here are the companies that top the list.
Last year’s Fortune 500 Rank: No. 1
2016 Revenue: $485.9 billion
One-year Revenue Change: 0.8%
Big-box retailer Walmart (WMT) has continued its online push in 2016, In a bid to accelerate e-commerce growth, Walmart has acquired digital-native retail companies in including ModCloth, ShoeBuy, and Moosejaw in recent years, and in 2016, in perhaps its biggest e-commerce move yet, it acquired Jet.com, for $3.3 billion. But the gulf between Walmart’s online business and that of the top online retailer, Amazon, is still daunting. While Amazon (No. 12 on this year’s list) carries some 300 million products, Walmart offers 10 million. And, while Amazon saw its revenue rise 27% last year, to $135 billion, Walmart’s revenue has remained relatively steady, up less than 1%.
2. Berkshire Hathaway
Former Fortune 500 Rank: No. 4
2016 Revenue: $223.6 billion
One-year Revenue Change: 6.1%
Berkshire Hathaway(BRK-A) rose two slots on this year’s Fortune 500 list, taking second place for the very first time. And 2016 was full of firsts for the holding company. The conglomerate helmed by CEO Warren Buffett bought a 1.1% stake in Apple, despite having avoided the so-called FANG tech giants in the past. Berkshire also piled into four airline stocks near the year’s end, even though for decades Buffett had called airlines a bad investment. So far, those bets appear to be paying off, and some the company’s core operating units, including its insurance and energy businesses, have done well, too.
Former Fortune 500 Rank: No. 3
2016 Revenue: $215.6 billion
One-year Revenue Change: -7.7%
Investors worried when, for the first time since 2001, the iPhone maker (AAPL) reported an annual drop in revenue. That metric fell 7.7% in 2016, while profits slid 14.4% to $45.7 billion, as Apple struggled to compete with locally made phone brands in China. Still, many are hopeful that Apple’s next iPhone, variously known as the iPhone 8 or iPhone X, could come with major revamps that will lure new consumers. And despite a subpar year, Apple still boasts the highest profits of any company on the list.
4. Exxon Mobil
Former Fortune 500 Rank: No. 2
2016 Revenue: $205 billion
One-year Revenue Change: -16.7%
Even an energy giant like Exxon Mobil (XOM) couldn’t weather the oil slump without some fallout. As OPEC struggled to put a together a production agreement addressing the global oil glut, Exxon Mobil’s revenue slid 16.7%, while profits sank to $7.8 billion—down 51.5% from a year earlier. In a sign of just how much the glut has hit Exxon, Standard and Poor stripped the company of its much admired triple-A credit rating—a rating it had held even through the oil crashes of the 1980s and 2008. Exxon’s struggles in 2016 caused it to slide two spots down the Fortune 500 list—to its lowest ranking since 1999.
Fortune 500 Rank: No. 5
2016 Revenue: $192.5 billion
One-year Revenue Change: 6.2%
The issue of drug-price gouging, which began attracting significant notice in late 2015, has certainly left its mark on companies the sector. And other factors have also affected the often highly profitable industry. The country’s largest pharmaceuticals distributor, McKesson (MCK), has cut its U.S. workforce by 4% in a bid to cut costs as drug prices stalled and the industry consolidated.
6. UnitedHealth Group
Fortune 500 Rank: No. 6
2016 Revenue: $184.8 billion
America’s largest health insurer, UnitedHealth (UNH), has been on a steady upward climb since CEO Stephen Hemsley took the helm in 2006, and 2016 was no different. Revenue was up 17.7% from a year earlier, despite losses from its involvement in the Affordable Care Act healthcare exchanges. United has said that it will exit most ACA state exchanges by the end of 2017. Meanwhile, its technology and services division, Optum, is expected to continue driving United’s earnings growth.
7. CVS Health
Fortune 500 Rank: No. 7
2016 Revenue: $177.5 billion
CVS(CVS) struggled to get consumers through its door in 2016. Some observers trace those woes back to 2014—when the retail and pharmacy chain said it would stop selling cigarettes. While that meant $2 billion less in annual sales, CVS’s top brass seemed convinced that the new strategy forward would eventually be better for its financial health, too. More recently, CVS has emphasized its beauty and health sections, in an effort to draw more retail traffic.
8. General Motors
Fortune 500 Rank: No. 8
2016 Revenue: $166.4 billion
General Motors (GM) embraced the new in 2016, foraying into all-electric cars such as the Chevrolet Bolt, and delving into car-sharing in Los Angeles. The company has been focusing on its U.S. operations, while whittling down its India and Europe operations. Revenue rose 9.2% in 2016, while profits were slightly down.
Fortune 500 Rank: No. 9
2016 Revenue: $151.8 billion
In 2016, revenue at Ford (F) popped 1.5%, but profits fell to $4.6 billion—38% lower than the year prior, due to a change in the company’s accounting practices. The company is continuing down a trajectory that would commit it more fully to producing self-driving cars. This year, CEO Mark Fields (himself a proponent of that evolution) was ousted in favor of the executive behind Ford’s automated driving unit, Jim Hackett.
Fortune 500 Rank: No. 10
2016 Revenue: $163.8 billion
Well aware that entertainment and the internet are becoming almost one and the same, AT&T(T) has gone on a mega-merger spree in recent years to keep up. In 2015, it acquired DirecTV for about $49 billion. This year, it should complete an acquisition of Time Warner for $85 million, assuming the deal is not blocked for antitrust reasons. Revenue rose 11.6% in 2016, but profits dropped 2.8%, and the company’s total number of customers in the video segment fell 186,000.
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