Wal-Mart remained at the top of Fortune’s annual list of the 500 highest-earning U.S. companies Monday, nearing half a trillion dollars in annual revenue and netting $16 billion.
The top 10 highest-earning companies were the same as last year, pulling in revenues worth hundreds of billions of dollars, but there was some notable reshuffling.
Apple, the highest-ranking tech company, moved into the fifth slot, with $170 billion in annual revenue and $37 billion in profits.
Berkshire Hathaway, the corporate conglomerate helmed by billionaire Warren Buffett, edged oil refining company Phillips 66 out of fourth place. The investment firm pulled in $182 billion in annual revenue last year. Phillips 66 dropped to the sixth slot, with $161 billion in annual revenue.
The Fortune 500 list includes U.S. companies, public and private, filing financial statements with federal or state agencies. The list was conceived by Time editor Edgar Smith in 1955.
In 1994, the list was retooled to include “service” companies such as McDonald’s and AT&T. Previously, it only included industrial companies.
Companies are ranked by annual revenue, a hierarchy that corporation communications and Dartmouth Tuck School professor Paul Argenti says is important but incomplete.
“You’ve got to take every list with a grain of salt. This one is very transparent and obvious: it’s just revenue, and revenue tells you part of the story about a company, but not all,” he said.
“I guess a lot of people don’t realize the size or the magnitude of organizations,” said Argenti, adding that for workers a more important list might be “best places to work or best reputation.”
The magazine also produces a broader Fortune 1,000 list, ranking the 1,000 highest-earning companies in the U.S.