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Tue, Apr 01, 2003 - Page 12 News List

Wal-Mart boosts lead in Fortune 500

AMERICA'S BEST While the retailer solidified its leading position based on revenue, ChevronTexaco was seventh, IBM eighth and Verizon rose to 10th

AP , NEW YORK

A deck officer checks the catapult system on an F-14 Tomcat prior to take off from the USS Harry S. Truman for a mission over Iraq, yesterday. Northrop Grumman Corp, maker of the Tomcat, was No. 151 on the Fortune 500 list of American companies this year. Boeing Corp is America's biggest aircraft manufacturers and was No. 16 on the list.

PHOTO: AP

Wal-Mart Stores Inc solidified its position atop the Fortune 500 list as America's need for affordable household goods boosted the retailer's revenue last year.

Wal-Mart held the top spot for a second consecutive year and Fortune editors conjectured that the discount merchant's worldwide growth might help it secure the position permanently.

The magazine's annual rankings, based on publicly traded US companies' revenues for the year, showed the usual jockeying in the top 5. At No.2, General Motors Corp rose from No.3, switching places with Exxon Mobil Corp, while Ford Motor Co retained fourth place and General Electric Co moved up one to fifth.

Enron Corp, the energy trader that made it to No. 5 in the previous list, dropped off after filing for bankruptcy.

Two financial powers were among the 2002 top 10. Citigroup moved up one spot to sixth, and American International Group gained three spots to ninth.

ChevronTexaco Corp was seventh, IBM eighth and Verizon Communications Inc 10th. Each moved up a spot from the 2001 list.

The list of the largest publicly held companies has been compiled annually since 1955 by the editors of Fortune. The latest rankings are published in the magazine's April 14 issue.

Profits for the 500 plunged 66 percent to a collective US$69.6 billion after a record drop in 2001. The magazine's editors said the latest decline was largely caused by accounting changes, which have made many companies far more conservative in their financial reporting.

But the effects of the sluggish economy were nonetheless apparent -- aggregate revenue slid for only the sixth time in the list's 49-year history, down 6 percent to US$6.95 trillion.

America's largest companies based on 2002 revenue

1. Wal-Mart Stores, Bentonville, Arkansas, US$246.5 billion

2. General Motors, Detroit, US$186.7 billion

3. Exxon-Mobil, Irving, Texas, US$182.5 billion

4. Ford Motor, Dearborn, Michigan, US$163.6 billion

5. GE, Fairfield, Connecticut, US$131.7 billion

6. Citigroup, New York, US$100.8 billion

7. ChevronTexaco, San Ramon, California, US$92 billion

8. International Business Machines, Armonk, New York, US$83.1 billion

9. American International Group, New York, US$67.7 billion

10. Verizon Communications, New York, US$67.6 billion Source: AP


Wal-Mart, however, saw revenue increase 12 percent to US$246.5 billion, US$60 billion ahead of GM.

"Wal-Mart has done more than retain its title as king of the mountain. It is rewriting notions of how big corporations are supposed to behave," Fortune writes in its introduction to the list, which appears in the April 14 issue.

A retailer with a different demographic, tony Neiman Marcus Group, concluded the list, ranking No. 500 with revenue of US$2.95 billion.

Among the 36 newcomers to the list was ubiquitous coffee purveyor Starbucks Corp, which arrived as No.465.

The highest-ranked new company on the list was AT&T Wireless Services, at No.119.

Other prominent newcomers were beer maker Adolph Coors Co, No.422, and Ace Hardware, No. 490.

Among the notables joining Enron in departing the 500 was WorldCom Inc, the bankrupt telecom giant that was 42nd in last year's rankings.

The largest movers on the list were a collection of energy companies, troubled by the heavy debt and uncertainty that overtook the sector following Enron's collapse.

Duke Energy Corp fell from No.14 to No.118.

Dynegy Inc, the energy trader that once planned to acquire Enron, fell from No.30 to No.336. Mirant Corp. slipped from No.52 to No. 259.

Aquila Corp fell from No.33 to No. 477. Allegheny Energy, the troubled Maryland-based utility, dropped from No.185 to No.496.

One of the biggest jumps on the list was the result of the merger of Conoco and Phillips Petroleum, completed in August. The combined company, ConocoPhillips Inc, moved to 12 from Phillips' No.81 ranking.

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