Skip to Content

New Fortune 500, Trade War Pause, Facebook Breakup Call: CEO Daily for May 21, 2018

Good morning .

The 64th annual Fortune 500 list is out this morning, and you can find it here. With $12.8 trillion in revenue–2/3rds of U.S. GDP–and 28.2 million employees worldwide, these companies remain the most important engine of both the U.S. and the global economy.

Some takeaways, provided by Fortune 500 data guru Scott DeCarlo:

Walmart topped the list, which ranks companies by revenue, for the sixth straight year in a row.

Apple, the most valuable and profitable company on the list—$850 billion in market cap and $48 billion in profits—dropped one spot to No. 4 on the revenue ranking.

Amazon, clearly the most feared competitor on the list, cracked the top 10 for the first time, landing at No. 8.

— With Denise Morrison stepping down from the top spot at Campbell’s, only 24 companies on the list are headed by women—whose ascent to the top spots of American business has clearly stalled.

GE fell five spots to No. 18—its lowest ranking ever on the list.

— Tesla made the biggest leap on this year’s list, jumping 123 spots to No. 260.

Xerox took the biggest plunge, dropping 129 spots to 291. (Read Shawn Tully’s take on Xerox’s battle with activist Carl Icahn here.)

— The four most valuable companies on the list are all technology firms—Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft and Amazon. Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway was fifth; Facebook was sixth.

— Nvidia, which rocketed up 80 spots on this year’s list to No. 306, led the list in five-year returns to shareholders. Netflix (No. 261) led in ten-year shareholder returns.

— There are 17 newcomers to the list, including Coty, Ulta Beauty, Conduent and Fortive.

— There are 53 companies that have been on the list every year since it started in 1955, including GE, GM, Chevron and Exxon Mobil. The oldest company on the list was started in 1784 by Alexander Hamilton—Bank of New York Mellon. (See the ages of all 500 companies here.)

— New York bested California for having the most FORTUNE 500 headquarters. It was up 4 to 58, while California dropped 4 to 49. Texas is a close third, with 48.

— The threshold for making this year’s list was $5.4 billion in revenues…up 6% from last year.

The 500 issue of Fortune magazine is out later this week, and I recommend you grab a copy and keep it on your bookshelf—it’s a rich compendium of economic information. You can read editor Clifton Leaf’s introduction to the issue here, and Beth Kowitt’s fascinating story on Amazon’s struggle to enter the grocery business here.

Other news below.

Alan Murray

Top News

Trade War Pause

The Sino-American trade war is “on hold”—Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s words there—after both the U.S. and China agreed to suspend their threats of massive tariffs on each other’s exports, while they conclude a long-lasting trade agreement. According to Donald Trump’s chief economic advisor, Larry Kudlow, the president is in a “very positive mood about this.” So are the markets—stocks, oil and the dollar are all up. NBC

Facebook Breakup Call

Progressive and pro-consumer groups are calling on the Federal Trade Commission to force the separation of Instagram, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp from the Facebook mothership. Their coalition, Freedom From Facebook, alleges that the company has amassed too much power and needs to be broken up—and also that privacy protections be boosted and cross-network communication made possible. Fortune

Anti-Bullying Push

The British government is threatening social media companies with huge fines if they don’t combat bullying and harassment on their platforms. Digital minister Matt Hancock has revealed plans for a statutory code of conduct on Facebook, Google, Twitter and others, to be introduced in the fall. Facebook would also get big fines if it allows children under the age of 13 to sign up—something that’s actually already banned under the EU General Data Protection Regulation. Times of London

GE Merger

General Electric’s transportation division, which makes train engines, may reportedly merge with Wabtec. That’s according to Reuters, which says the combined business could be valued at $20 billion and the merger may be announced this week. However, sources told the news organization that it was still possible the deal could fall through. Reuters

Around the Water Cooler

Giuseppe Conte

Giuseppe Conte is a 54-year-old law professor with hardly any political experience. And? He’s widely speculated to be the next Italian prime minister under a deal struck between the populist Five Star Movement and far-right League parties. Although Conte’s nomination is still not yet official, League leader Matteo Salvini issued this threat to Italian president Sergio Mattarella, who could theoretically veto the appointment: “We hope no one will place vetoes on this person’s name or surname. We won’t accept it.” Financial Times

Iran Deal

Iran is urging China to help protect the nuclear deal that’s threatened by U.S. withdrawal. “We expect other remaining members of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, including China, to help implement and continue this deal, and fulfil their commitment and obligations according to this deal,” the Iranian ambassador to China, Ali Asghar Khaji, said. “If we could gain these rights and benefits from this deal we will stay in it. If these Iranian rights were not satisfied, and our interests were not reached, we will think about other options.” South China Morning Post

Dirty Money

The U.K. Parliament’s foreign affairs committee says the country has been turning a blind eye to Russian “dirty money,” with London being used as a hiding place for the assets of President Vladimir Putin and his cronies. The committee accuses the government of a “lethargic response” to the poisoning of double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter. Committee chair Tom Tugenhat wrote that “London’s markets are enabling the Kremlin’s efforts.” BBC

DVD Lives

Netflix’s DVD division, which boasts a mere three million subscribers, still exists and is still profitable—in the first quarter of this year, it made $56 million on revenues of $99 million. Why is it still around? Because some areas have poor connectivity, making streaming difficult. Also, because it has many more titles on offer than Netflix’s vastly more popular streaming service. And also, maybe because some subscribers don’t realize they haven’t cancelled their subscription. CNBC

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer. Find previous editions here, and sign up for other Fortune newsletters here.