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This year’s Fortune 500 list shows turmoil in corporate America

June 2, 2021, 9:46 AM UTC

Good morning.

The 2021 Fortune 500 list of the largest U.S. companies is out this morning, and while there was no change at the very top—Walmart landed at No.1 and Amazon at No.2, just like last year—there was huge turmoil underneath. Exxon Mobil, which has been in the top five every year since the list’s launch in 1955, plummeted to No.10 and recorded the single biggest loss, some $22 billion, among the companies on the 500. Four airlines fell more than 100 places each—Delta, United, American and Southwest—with revenue losses of at least 60% each. And Marriott International fell 136 spots to No.293, reporting a $267 million loss.  

Meanwhile, on the upside, Advanced Micro Devices made the biggest jump, up 139 spots to No.309. Newcomer Rocket Companies blasted its way to No.193 on the list, powered by a 204% leap in revenue.  PayPal rose to No.134, thanks to a 20.7% increase in revenue. And Dollar General cracked the top 100, at No.91, thanks to a 21.6% increase in sales. There were 24 newcomers on the list, including Chewy (No.403) and Chipotle (No.464.)

Some other interesting facts from the list, courtesy of data guru Scott DeCarlo:

—The five most valuable companies on the list were all tech titans, with Apple (No.3) leading the pack with its $2 trillion valuation. Four of the five are valued at over $1 trillion.
—Revenues of the 500 totaled $13.8 trillion, which was down 3% from a year earlier. Profits were down 30%.
—There were 41 female CEOs leading companies on the list, up 4 from last year. Karen Lynch of CVS (No.4) took the top.
—California and New York tied for the most companies on the list, with 53 each—although the California companies were runaway favorites in revenues, profits, and market valuation. Texas came in third, with 49 companies.
—The revenue threshold for getting on the list this year was $5.4 billion.

You can explore the full list here. More news below.

Alan Murray


$50 billion plea

The World Bank, World Trade Organization, World Health Organization and International Monetary Fund have collectively issued a plea for the world's rich countries to provide $50 billion for the vaccination of the world. "Even as some affluent countries are already discussing the rollout of booster shots to their populations, the vast majority of people in developing countries—even front-line health workers—have still not received their first shot," the organizations' leaders said. CNBC

Musky tweets

The SEC told Tesla twice last year that CEO Elon Musk had violated the court-ordered policy of having his tweets vetted by company lawyers (a policy that came from a settlement over allegedly fraudulent tweets about a potential Tesla buyout). The regulator was irked by tweets about Tesla's solar roof production volumes and stock price. They presumably won't be so worried by his latest missive about Baby Shark, which goosed Samsung Publishing's shares because that's just how the world works now. Wall Street Journal

Credit Suisse vs SoftBank

Credit Suisse is reportedly planning to sue SoftBank over the collapse of Greensill Capital—specifically, over the $440 million that Credit Suisse's customers are owed by a U.S. construction group called Katera that was a Greensill client and that, like Greensill, was backed by SoftBank's Vision Fund. Financial Times

Amazon and marijuana

Amazon will no longer include marijuana in its pre-employment drug tests (except where Department of Transportation-regulated positions are concerned) and will now treat the herb the same as it does alcohol. The company has come out in favor of federal legalization. Also, Amazon is revising its much-criticized Time Off Task policy that automatically tracks workers' productivity—it's now averaging over a longer period, which still lets it use the metric to identify operational issues. CNN


Alaskan freeze

The Biden administration has frozen all oil and gas leases in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The Trump administration had controversially greenlit the leases, but the Interior Department now says there wasn't a sufficient environmental review. The review will now go ahead soon, and it could result in restrictions on drilling activities, or even the wholesale axing of the leases. Politico

Lovable China

In an apparent attempt to revise the "wolf warrior" tag that's frequently attached to Chinese diplomacy, President Xi Jinping has urged officials to promote a "trustworthy, lovable and respectable" image for China, which must "make friends extensively, unite the majority and continuously expand its circle of friends with those who understand and are friendly to China." Fortune

Tax floor

Two separate studies released yesterday showed that the U.K. and the EU would respectively pull in an extra $20.8 billion and $122.3 billion a year if there were a global corporate tax-rate minimum of 21%. The reports provide useful ammunition for tax-justice campaigners and some governments ahead of next week's G7 summit, where a deal may be struck (in that group, the U.K. is the lone holdout when it comes to supporting the Biden administration's proposals for a minimum tax rate). Fortune

Zero deaths

The U.K. recorded zero COVID deaths yesterday, which could be a statistical fluke given the national holiday the day before, but is obviously great to see. The government says it shows vaccines are working. That said, case numbers are increasing again, and deaths always lag behind. BBC

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.

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