Oil Companies Thrive in Bad Economy

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Last year was a bad year for many giants of industry, according to Fortune magazine’s annual ranking of top companies, which reported the profits of the largest 500 companies fell collectively by 85% from 2007 to 2008. But 2008 wasn’t so bad for the oil industry, which placed four companies in the top 10 (based on total revenues) of the Fortune 500, something no other industry managed to do. Exxon Mobil placed first, Chevron third, ConocoPhillips fourth, and Valero Energy tenth. When comparing companies by their profits, Chevron moved up to No. 2, with $23.9 billion, which was still a far cry from Exxon Mobil’s $45.2 billion. Non-oil companies posting big profits included Microsoft ($17.7 billion), General Electric ($17.4 billion), Wal-Mart ($13.4 billion), Johnson & Johnson ($12.9 billion) and AT&T ($12.9 billion).

The success of the oil industry in 2008 was all the more remarkable when considering how damaging things were for other longtime stalwarts of the Fortune 500. Eleven of the top 25 largest corporate losses in list history took place last year, and 38 companies disappeared from the Fortune rankings altogether. These included Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, and Anheuser Busch.
-Noel Brinkerhoff


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