Wed, May 09, 2012 - Page 10 News List

ExxonMobil tops Fortune 500 list, Walmart No. 2

AP and AFP, NEW YORK

ExxonMobil has bumped Walmart from first place among the Fortune 500 top revenue-generating US companies thanks to rising oil prices.

Fortune magazine released its annual list on Monday.

Oil producers saw some of the biggest revenue increases as a rebellion in Libya and high demand worldwide pushed oil prices higher. The price of benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude oil soared 19 percent. Brent crude, which helps set the price of foreign oil varieties, surged 38 percent between 2010 and last year.

Revenue rose for Exxon Mobil Corp, based in Irving, Texas, even though the company struggled with lower production and high refining costs. It earned US$41 billion last year on revenue of US$486 billion.

Now at No. 2, Wal-Mart Stores Inc reported 4 percent lower earnings in its latest fiscal year: net income of US$15.7 billion on revenue of US$446.95 billion. Higher expenses squeezed profits as the Bentonville, Arkansas, retail giant also looked for ways to lower prices.

Two other petroleum companies — Chevron and ConocoPhillips — ranked next behind Walmart.

Rounding out the top 10 were automaker General Motors Co, industrial and banking giant General Electric Co, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc, mortgage provider Fannie Mae, Ford Motor Co and technology giant Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co.

HP is new to Fortune’s top 10 this year, knocking out Bank of America, which fell to No. 13.

Bank of America’s revenue has been hit on several fronts by a combination of a weak economy and new regulations that cut how much the bank could collect in credit card and checking account fees. It earned US$1.4 billion last year on revenue of US$94.4 billion.

Meanwhile, the combined earnings of the Fortune 500 corporations rose 16 percent from 2010 to a record high of US$825 billion last year, despite a lackluster economy, the magazine said.

The previous record of US$785 billion was set in 2006, amid robust economic growth and before the subprime mortgage crisis in the US housing market touched off global financial turmoil.

After that tailspin in late 2008, companies slashed costs, particularly labor, the magazine said.

And despite a recovery from deep recession that ended in mid-June 2009, companies have been reluctant to hire more workers, who account for almost 70 percent of their total costs.

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