Wed, Jul 14, 2004 - Page 11 News List

Wal-Mart tops `Fortune' list again


US retail titan Wal-Mart Stores Inc, with 1.5 million employees, topped the Fortune Global 500 biggest firms last year -- its third straight year -- and British Petroleum took second spot.

Wal-Mart spearheaded a pack of 189 American companies in the top 500, Fortune said on Monday. The discount chain's revenues increased 7 percent last year to US$263 billion and its workforce swelled by 100,000 people to 1.5 million employees.

But Wal-Mart's profits, which jumped 13 percent to US$9.1 billion last year, were not the largest.

Not counting MCI, the number 168 company, which emerged from bankruptcy with a "paper profit" of US$22.2 billion, Texas oil giant Exxon Mobil Corp was the most profitable with net profit of US$21.5 billion.

Citigroup Inc was second most profitable with US$17.9 billion.

"Even with a war in Iraq, a jobless recovery in the United States, and anemic economic growth in Europe, the Fortune Global 500 companies reported revenues last year of US$14.9 trillion -- higher than the US$14.1 trillion at the height of the tech boom in 2000 -- as well as record profits of US$731.2 billion," said Paola Hjelt, who works for Fortune.

Over the past decade, the number of American companies in the Global 500 rose from 151 to 189, Japanese companies slumped from 149 to 82, and Chinese companies rose from three to 15.

In the past year alone, the number of Indian companies in the Global 500 rose from one to four.

American firms took half of the top 10 -- dominated by car makers and oil giants -- with Exxon Mobil as the number three, General Motors Corp number five, Ford Motor Co number six and General Electric number nine.

Britain got two of the top 10, with BP edging out Exxon Mobil for the first time to grab second place, and British-Dutch group Royal Dutch/Shell in the number four spot.

German car group DaimlerChrysler AG is the seventh largest group in the world, Japanese car maker Toyota Motor Corp number eight, and French oil giant Total squeezing in at number 10.

Japanese companies in the 500 turned a profit after two years of losses, led by Toyota, which drove up profit by 67 percent to become the world's most profitable car maker.

Chinese companies in the list had low profits and sales overall, but they still pushed up revenue by 53 percent.

The newcomers from China include the national power company State Grid Corp, ranked 46th; Shanghai Baosteel Group Corp, in 372nd place; Hutchison Whampoa Ltd, ranked 407th; and Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp, ranked 461th.

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