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Rediff.com  » Business » US Fortune 500 club tops $10-trillion mark

US Fortune 500 club tops $10-trillion mark

April 22, 2008 16:41 IST
The size of America's Fortune 500 club -- topped by retail giant Wal-Mart for second straight year -- has crossed the $10-trillion-dollar mark, but the combined profit earned by the companies fell by close to $140 billion last year.

According to the latest Fortune 500 list of America's biggest corporations, which has been topped by discount retailer Wal-Mart Stores six times in past seven years, the cumulative net profit of all these firms fell about 18 per cent to $645.2 billion in 2007.

However, the total turnover of America's Fortune 500 firms rose by about seven per cent to $10.6 trillion. The list, which has been published in Fortune's May 5 edition, ranks the companies on the basis of their full-year revenue.

The magazine noted that "on June 13, 2007, the world changed for the Fortune 500. Why? Because on that day, the financial markets finally woke up from a dream".

"As a result, the companies in the 500 (list) are still coping with the trauma of their abrupt return to reality, which included the group's first profit decline in five years. And, no, the trouble isn't over. Nor is it strictly a US problem," it said, adding that the shock to the US financial system created aftershocks around the globe.

"The IMF has lowered its estimates of world growth for 2008, and the higher cost of capital is hurting businesses that need to borrow - which means everyone..."

It said that in 2006, 156 companies in the Fortune 500 reported lower profits than the year ago, and 43 lost money. In 2007, all the numbers got worse with 183 companies seeing their profits fall and another 57 recording losses.

BJ According to Fortune, the mortgage meltdown and slumping auto sales hurt many Fortune 500 firms last year, with 16 of them posting losses of at least one billion dollars.

Auto giant General Motors has been named as the league's biggest loser with a loss of $38.73 billion for 2007.

GM is followed by Sprint Nextel, Merrill Lynch, AMD, Freddie Mac, Delphi, Ford Motor, GMAC, Pulte Homes, Fannie Mae, Lennar, Newmont, Charter, Schering-Plough, Sovereign Bancorp, Sanmina-SCI, KB Home, Virgin Media, Avis Budget Group and SLM in the list of 20 biggest losers.

In the main list, Wal-Mart (revenue of $378.8 billion) is followed by energy giant ExxonMobil (372.8 billion dollars), which had topped the retail major from its top slot in 2006.

Others in top 10 include Chevron, GM, ConocoPhillips, GE, Ford, Citigroup, Bank of America and AT&T. Together these 10 have a turnover of about two trillion dollars -- a figure equivalent to size of most of the economies, including India.

Citigroup, run by India-born Vikram Pandit, has retained the eighth position with a turnover of $159.2 billion. Another Indian-run firm, cola giant PepsiCo, has been ranked 59th with $39 billion.

The list comprises of only American firms and Fortune publishes a separate global list. Last year's Fortune Global 500 list had six Indian firms -- Indian Oil, ONGC, BPCL, HPCL, SBI and Reliance Industries.

The magazine said that one trend that was witnessed last year was of "the unprecedented abundance of capital".

"The super growth of China, India, and other savings-oriented economies released new capital into the world; the efficiency of global capital markets meant trillions of dollars were being continually directed to their best use worldwide. When anything is that plentiful, it's cheap," it said.

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