America’s $10 Billion Club
How many of the top 500 U.S. companies generated $10 billion or more in profits in 2012?
December 10, 2013
Despite a sluggish labor market and stagnant wages for most workers, U.S. companies still managed to earn near-record profits in 2012.
We wonder: How many of the top 500 U.S. companies generated $10 billion or more in profits in 2012?
[toggle title_open=”A. 189 is not correct” title_closed=”A. 189″]
There were far fewer than 189 U.S. companies with $10 billion or more in profits in 2012. However, 189 companies were successful enough to earn at least $1 billion in profits last year, based on data compiled by Fortune magazine.
Thus, almost 40% of the Fortune 500 companies earned profits in excess of $1 billion. The company that barely made it past the $1 billion milestone was TRW Automotive, a manufacturer of automotive parts and systems based in the Detroit suburbs.
Fortune ranks the top 500 U.S. companies based on their gross revenues. To be included in the current list, a company needed to have revenues of almost $5 billion in 2012.
As a group, the Fortune 500 companies had total revenues of $12.1 trillion in 2012. That is equal to about 77% of U.S. GDP ($15.7 trillion). In fact, their combined revenues are larger than the annual economic output of all countries in the world except the United States.[/toggle]
[toggle title_open=”B. 55 is not correct” title_closed=”B. 55″]
There were 55 companies in the Fortune 500 that generated no profit at all in 2012. These companies — which represent over 10% of the 500 U.S. companies with the largest annual revenues — lost a combined $59.4 billion.
California-based Hewlett-Packard, a manufacturer of computers and printers, was the only company to lose more than $10 billion last year. The company lost a total of $12.65 billion, in large part due to the accounting fraud relating to its acquisition of software company Autonomy.
Other well-known companies that had losses in 2012 were Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Best Buy. The largest loss of all time occurred at AIG, which lost $99 billion in 2008, in the aftermath of the housing market crash.
The Fortune 500 companies represent just over one-eighth of the 3,687 companies traded on U.S. stock markets.[/toggle]
[toggle title_open=”C. 38 is not correct” title_closed=”C. 38″]
Only 38 of the Fortune 500 companies broke the $5 billion profit barrier in 2012. One of them was the entertainment and media company Walt Disney, with profits of “only” $5.7 billion.
Taken together, the Fortune 500 companies employed 26.4 million people in 2012 — a number larger than the population of the state of Texas, the second most-populous U.S. state.
The U.S. company with the highest revenues in 2012 was retail and grocery giant Wal-Mart, at $469.2 billion. Since Fortune began compiling its top 500 list in 1955, only three companies have ever held the top spot: General Motors, ExxonMobil and Wal-Mart.[/toggle]
[toggle title_open=”D. 17 is correct” title_closed=”D. 17″]
There were a total of 17 U.S. companies that made more than $10 billion in profits in 2012. Three of those companies each exceeded $25 billion in profits — two oil companies and one technology company: ExxonMobil ($44.9 billion), Apple ($41.7 billion) and Chevron ($26.2 billion).
Combined, the 17 most-profitable companies earned more than $318 billion in profits last year on revenues of $2.5 trillion. Other companies among the top 17 were Wells Fargo, Microsoft, IBM, Pfizer, Intel, Johnson & Johnson and Google.
The combined profits earned by all 500 of the Fortune 500 companies in 2012 was $820 billion — just $4 billion less than in 2011, their most profitable year of all-time.[/toggle]
To be in the current US Fortune 500, a firm needed to have revenues of almost $5 billion in 2012.
The largest U.S. corporate profit loss of all time was $99 billion at AIG in 2008.
Taken together, US Fortune 500 companies employed 26.4 million people in 2012.
3 of the US Fortune 500 firms made profits of over $25 billion in 2012. 2 oil firms and 1 tech firm.
Combined, the 17 most-profitable US firms earned more than $318 billion in profits last year.