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Fortune 500: This Year’s Top 10

Three oil companies sit high on the list


Big oil is king of the corporate titans on Fortune‘s latest annual Fortune 500 list. The companies that made the list this year  — oil giants took spots 1, 3 and 4 —  reeled in a combined profit of nearly $825 billion, an increase of about 16% over profits reported in 2010.

“Corporate America is doing great right now,” Andy Serwer, Fortune managing editor told CBS. “The consumer in America, not so great. Government in the United States, not so well. But businesses are doing well. They’ve really come out of the downturn, doing things right. They’re in good shape. ”

According to Serwer, much of the recent success in the business world has been at the expense of the ailing U.S. job market.

“A lot of (corporate success) has to do with the fact that they’ve cut back. They’ve cut costs during the downturn meaning layoffs quite frankly. That’s why profits are so high.”

Here’s a glance of the 10 U.S. corporations with the highest profits of 2011.

Fortune 500 Top 10

  1. Exxon Mobil: With profits of about $41 billion and revenues of $453 billion in 2011, oil conglomerate Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) landed the top spot. The company has capitalized on the natural-gas “fracking” trend and now produces more natural gas than it ever has before.
  2. Wal-Mart Stores: The retail giant is still the highest ranked of its competitors, but Wal-Mart: (NYSE:WMT) lost its two-year grip on the No. 1 spot. The big-box retailer, which has been hurt by “showrooming” and decreases in its customers’ spending, slashed prices to push up revenues to about $447 billion. Wal-Mart’s 2011 profits dropped more than 4%  to $15.7 billion.
  3. Chevron: The second-largest oil company in the U.S. didn’t have a banner year in 2011, but it still garnered more than enough earnings to land in the No. 3 spot. Chevron (NYSE:CVX) reported year-end profits of nearly $27 billion, and revenues of about $246 billion.
  4. Conoco Phillips: If the recent Fortune 500 list was based on 2012 results, Phillips 66 (NYSE:PSX) and not parent company ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) would be ranked fourth. On April 30, 2012, ConocoPhillips broke into two publicly traded companies to entice investors and compete better internationally.
  5. General Motors: Detroit’s General Motors (NYSE:GM) is showing signs of a comeback. Last year, the company was No. 8. In 2011, just two years after filing for bankruptcy, GM reported profits of about $9 billion, a 49% jump from 2010. The company’s revenues climbed to about $150 billion in 2011.
  6. General Electric: Sales slumped more than 2% for General Electric (NYSE:GE) last year, but the company performed well overall. Its earnings rose to more than $147 billion. GE projects that 2012 year-end earnings will increase about 10% from last year.
  7. Berkshire Hathaway: The company headed by Warren Buffett experienced quite a few challenges in 2011, but for the 39th year, Fortune says Berkshire Hathaway’s (NYSE:BRK.A, BRK.B) book value growth outperformed the S&P 500. The company reported year-end revenues of about $144 billion.
  8. Fannie Mae: Government-manged mortgage giant Fannie Mae may not be among the top 10 next year. With the housing market still depressed, the company reported losses about $17 billion last year.  Its revenues fell more than 10% to about $138 billion.
  9. Ford Motor: A few years ago, the iconic car company was near the edge. Today, Ford Motor (NYSE:F) has regained its footing in the auto industry. Profits soared 208% in 2011, and CEO Alan Mulally has been heralded leading the company through trying times.
  10. Hewlett-Packard: The world’s largest computer producer is counting on new CEO Meg Whitman to help turn the company around. If she doesn’t, Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) won’t come in nearly as high on the list next year.

You can read the complete Fortune 500 list at CNNMoney.

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