Wal-Mart remains atop Fortune 500 list
By Michael P. Regan
NEW YORK A tailwind of improving economic conditions blew many major companies to record revenues in 2003, but none was able to knock Wal-Mart Stores Inc. off the top of the Fortune 500 list.
With sales of almost $259 billion, the late Sam Walton's global chain of general stores topped the list of the nation's largest publicly traded companies for the third straight year. There was some predictable shuffling among the rest of the top 10.
Fortune's annual ranking, to be published in the magazine's April 5 edition, is based on the companies' sales figures as reported in financial statements for 2003.
Exxon-Mobil was No. 2 with $213 billion in revenue. GM and Ford Motor Co. came in third and fourth, respectively, with revenues of $196 billion and $164 billion. General Electric Co. remained at No. 5 with revenue of $134 billion.
Both Ford and GE held their spots from 2002.
ChevronTexaco Corp. moved up a spot to No. 6, while another refiner, ConocoPhillips, jumped five spots to No. 7. Banking powerhouse Citigroup Inc. was eighth, followed by International Business Machines Corp. and insurer American International Group Inc.
This year marks the 50th time Fortune has published its annual rankings. A look at the original 500 reveals some familiar names in 1955, General Motors was No. 1, General Electric No. 4, Chrysler No. 6 and Du Pont No. 10.
The No. 2 company back then was Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey. And another piece of John D. Rockefeller's former empire, Standard Oil Co. of New York, was No. 9. These two were predecessors of Exxon-Mobil.
Others were muscled out as manufacturing's dominance in the U.S. economy dwindled. United States Steel Corp., which was No. 3 in 1955, is now 209th.