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Published:April 20th, 2009 10:05 EST
Exxon Mobil Claims #1 Ranking On Fortune 500

Exxon Mobil Claims #1 Ranking On Fortune 500

By Christopher HIllenbrand

Exxon Mobil Corp. supplanted Wal-Mart Stores Inc. as the top company on the 2009 Fortune 500 list, by overcoming the plummeting prices of oil and pulling through what Fortune 500 has called the single worst year for the U.S.`s biggest companies on Wall Street.

Published on Sunday, the 2009 Fortune 500 list recorded the top-earning companies for the 2008 financial year.

Exxon Mobil Corp., headquartered in Irving, Texas and former number two company as of 2008`s list, earned $442.85 billion in revenue in 2008: a 19 percent jump from 2007. The company also announced it garnered its greatest annual profit with $45.2 billion.

Wal-Mart, based out of Bentonville, Ark., had been the number one earning corporation on the Fortune 500 list six times in the last seven years, before being demoted to the number two spot this year even though the company registered capital gains. In 2008, Wal-Mart`s revenues reached $405.6 billion, a 7 percent hike from the previous year, on the consumers` propensity to stretch their limited incomes in the thralls of recession. The retail giant also declared $13.4 billion in annual profit, which almost equaled its revenue increase for 2008 at 5 percent.

Exxon and Wal-Mart were by and large the outliers on the list, as most of the companies on the list languished due to the faltering economy. Earnings declined 85 percent all across the market, from $645 billion in 2007 to $98.9 billion in 2008, marking the largest one-year decrease reported by the magazine in its 55-year history.

Fortune 500 went as far as to say "America is getting used to the ound of bubbles bursting."

As in the past, the energy industry posted many of the highest rankings on the list, withstanding the astronomical prices of oil during last summer that more than recuped the losses the oil companies suffered by the fall. Chevron Corp. maintained the number three position with an annual revenue up 25 percent from 2007`s year-end figures at $263.16 billion. ConocoPhillips actually rose one spot to number four with its revenue paced at $230.76 billion.

Even with the recent woes encountered in its financial sector, General Electric Co. ascended one ranking to fifth from one year ago. General Motors Corp., hammered by a lack of demand in the marketplace, dropped down two pegs to number six, with revenues falling 18 percent and recorded losses of $30.86 billion. Fellow Detroit-based automaker Ford Motor Co. trailed at seventh with $146.28 billion in year-end earnings.

AT&T Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Valero Energy Corp. comprised the remainder of the list`s Top 10 companies.

Like the comprehensive bailout program enacted by the government would indicate, banks, insurers, and finance securities firms were hit the hardest by 2008`s economic windfall. Overall, the companies in these industries reported losses totalling $213.4 billion: nearly 70 percent of the total revenue backslide incurred by the industries since the market`s bubble swelled back in 2006. Financial titans Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America that were seeded eighth and nineth in that order last year, both dropped to the bottom half of the top 20.

Thirty-eight companies on the 2008 Fortune 500 list fell off the list entirely. Bear Stearns Companies, Inc., Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., Washington Mutual Inc. and Wachovia Corp. are numbered among the corporations which either filed for bankruptcy or have been absorbed by holding companies.

The "biggest winner" on the list goes to URS Corp, that jumped 185 places to 264th, while on the opposite end of that spectrum, AIG Corp. fell the most from 13th to 245th, a 232 drop in the last year, as one of the institutions secured through the government`s financial rescue package.