The 2011 Fortune 500: The Big Boys Rack Up Record-Setting Profits

Fortune 500By Shawn Tully, CNNMoney

Given the sluggish recovery and a strapped consumer, you'd expect to see corporate America trudging along, not racing for glory. In fact, the Fortune 500 are thriving as a group. Unlike the U.S. economy, they've shown quicksilver agility, rapidly shifting their product mix and producing more goods at little new cost. This nimbleness belies the immense size of these companies and, frequently, their advanced age.

The Fortune 500 generated a total of $824.5 billion in earnings last year, up 16.4% over 2010. That beats the previous record of $785 billion, set in 2006 during a roaring economy. The 2011 profits are outsized based on two key historical metrics. They represent 7% of total sales, vs. an average of 5.14% over the 58-year history of the Fortune 500. Companies are also garnering exceptional returns on their capital. The 500 achieved a return-on-equity of 14.3%, far above the historical norm of 12%.

Looking deeper into the list, several macro trends emerge. High prices at the pump translated into great results for energy companies like Exxon Mobil, which topped the Fortune 500 with $453 billion in revenues. Your friends on Wall Street may be complaining about smaller bonuses, but financial services are experiencing a comeback of sorts. For 2011, the sector posted $150 billion in earnings, up 19% over 2010. The financial sector also saw a revival in the fortunes of the big commercial banks. Meanwhile, technology wasn't quite the profit machine that it's been in past years. Sector earnings rose by just $5 billion, although tech remains the largest profit-maker at $156 billion, narrowly edging the resurgent financials.

These big numbers can't last. The gravitational pull of the business cycle will eventually end the profit bonanza, in part because many companies carried out brutal layoffs during the recession and will now be forced to hire more workers to maintain their growth. So let's enjoy it as a heroic but fleeting moment, not a durable new age.

Here are the Top 20 Companies in the Fortune 500

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DO you RE_Call November 2,2010, When the Republicans Congrees tolf the American_People thay if you VOVE Republicans !
1) The Republicans will have jobs for the Womens & Mens !
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3) But ?
4) what did the Republicans do ?
5) The Republicans Congrees LIES to you again !
6) It been over 2 years now !
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11) all what the Republicans Congrees know what to do is "LIES" to the people !
12) Also the Tea Party know what to do is LIES also

God Bless the 98% & the OLD, & Blacks also the Whites
Thank you for your time,
DO_NOT forgey to go and VOTE

September 17 2012 at 5:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

if you RE-Call G.W.Bush was in office foe 8 years, and all what Bush done was LIES to the People !
1) G.W.Bush knew about September 11,2001 in Mat of 2011 ( that is 3 Months befor 9-11-2011 !
2) G.W.Bush lies about the other Wars
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12) Mitt Romney & Paul Ryan are who they care about is the TOP 1% & TOP 2% that is all !

September 17 2012 at 5:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Happy-Bday ugly

The big companies have been down sizing for years, just like the airlines and most of the down sizing has come at the expense of employes losing jobs, pay and benefits, couple that with very high price increases we have seen on virtually everything, plus the fsct that these companies pay very little in taxes, it is no wonder why they are doing so well, but this false sense of healthy large corporations will end soon as the real economy shows it's ugly head.

May 09 2012 at 12:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Beatriz Reyes

what Troy responded I am dazzled that someone able to get paid $7546 in one month on the computer. have you seen this web link

May 08 2012 at 2:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Christy Sargent And

Do the job creators realize they're supposed to be creating jobs? That's WHY they get all the government welfare in the form of subsidies, tax breaks, and other incentives? Or are they just greedy?

May 07 2012 at 10:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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If you don't like WalMart, then don't shop there! In my time I have seen Sears, KMart, Gemco, Fantastic Fare, Montgomery Wards, Sprouse Reitz , Gottschalks, Mervyns and many other stores falter or FAIL for one reason or another. And I do not believe it can all be blamed on WalMart! One was or another capitalism always wins. Deal with it.

May 07 2012 at 7:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

**** walmart

May 07 2012 at 6:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Wal-Mart must be stopped at all cost.

May 07 2012 at 6:36 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
The Darb

Oh, my, all you Walmart haters rejoice. Imagine, now only #2. The oil companies continue to screw the public, yet the Occupiers are more worried about a few billionaires. Incredible!

May 07 2012 at 6:30 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

It bothers me to see so many oil companies and banks at the top of the list, but then again the banks are run amuck with fees added to fees, crying for bail outs and writing bad mortgages, while the oil companies are milking us left and right.

May 07 2012 at 6:25 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply