Tue, Apr 21, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Profits plunged 85 percent for top US firms last year


The top 500 US corporations saw their profits plunge 85 percent last year, their worst showing in more than half a century, Fortune magazine reported on Sunday.

“The sumptuous profits America posted over the past few years weren’t part of a new world order, but a bubble that, like the others, went out with a bang. And what a bang,” the magazine reported in its latest issue.

“Last year was the worst economic performance in the 55-year history of the Fortune 500 list of America’s biggest 500 companies,” Fortune said.

“Earnings dropped 84.7 percent from the previous year, from US$645 billion to US$98.9 billion, marking the largest one-year decline ever,” it said. “For every dollar in profits the 500 garnered in 2006, its members made US$0.13 in 2008.”

“The economy’s fall was precipitous, leaving companies little time to adjust and pushing the 500 from the summit to something resembling an earnings depression,” it said.

Unsurprisingly, the financial and automotive sectors were the worst hit, with the former reporting US$214.3 billion in losses, US$99.3 billion of which came from one company — battered insurance group American International Group (AIG).

In Fortune’s latest annual listing of the top 500 US companies, energy and oil firms held three of the top four positions, led by ExxonMobil, which snagged top spot from retail giant Wal-Mart. The retailer dropped to No. 2.

Automaker General Motors was sixth, despite being on the verge of bankruptcy, followed by Ford in seventh place.

AIG suffered the biggest drop in the standings, falling from No. 13 to No. 245.

Also See: US declining, but recession abating

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