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Exxon edges Wal-Mart in Fortune 500

Associated Press / April 20, 2009
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NEW YORK - Exxon Mobil Corp. unseated Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in the 2009 Fortune 500 list, shrugging off the oil price bubble and weathering what the magazine called the worst year ever for the country's largest publicly traded companies.

Fortune's closely watched list, released yesterday, ranked companies by their revenue in 2008. Irving, Texas-based Exxon took in $442.85 billion in revenue last year, up almost 19 percent from 2007. The company also raked in the biggest annual profit, earning $45.2 billion.

Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart had held the top spot for six of the last seven years but fell to No. 2 this year. Still, the retail giant's 2008 revenue climbed 7 percent to $405.6 billion, as more consumers searched for bargains. The world's largest retailer took in $13.4 billion in annual profit, an increase of about 5 percent.

Although it may have been a good year for Exxon and Wal-Mart, 2008 was far from rosy for most of the remaining companies on the list. Overall earnings plunged 85 percent to $98.9 billion from $645 billion in 2007, the biggest one-year decline in the 55-year history of the Fortune 500 list.

"America is getting used to the sound of bubbles bursting," Fortune said.

But the title of "biggest loser" went to AIG Corp. The insurer, which has received more than $180 billion in government bailout aid since last fall, fell 232 spots to 245 in the ranking.