“Everything that happens in business in the United States shows up in one way or another in the 500,” said Carol Loomis, Fortune’s senior editor-at-large. “It’s a mirror to the economy.” Since 1955, more than 2,000 companies have earned a spot on the list, but in 55 years only three have achieved the number one slot: General Motors, ExxonMobil and Wal-Mart.
2008 was the worst year in the history of the Fortune 500 for America’s largest companies. How bad was the profit decrease? From $645 billion in profits in 2007, profits dropped this year to just $98.9 billion – an 84.7 percent decline!
Records were broken: Eleven of the top 25 largest corporate losses in list history took place last year.
The biggest loser of them all was of course insurance giant AIG. The company posted a $99.3 billion loss. But it’s still on the list (I guess it really is “too big to fail”!). AIG is still at the half way point for the Fortune 500. It’s ranked at number 245, thought it’s down from number 13 last year. Thirty-eight companies disappeared from the list altogether. Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers of course, but it was also “last call” for Saint Louis based brewer Anheuser Busch.
Who was the big winner in 2008? Oil of course! ExxonMobil which was boosted by higher gas prices, trucked past Wal-Mart to arrive at the coveted number one spot.