Companies in the United States reach Fortune 500 status after reaching the profit generation threshold, which changes annually. Companies must surpass a certain financial threshold for inclusion in the Fortune 500 listing; this listing bases exclusively on profits and revenue, but companies making the list, and especially repeat organizations, share several common traits, making them more successful than their peers. The 2013 threshold was slightly more than $4.8 billion, according to Fortune.
Fortune 500 companies include organizations from many industries. In recent history, Exxon Mobil, General Electric, Wal-Mart and Chevron take the lead as highest earners, representing the oil, electronics, consumer goods and automobile industries, respectively. Each year, Fortune magazine retrieves data concerning income of all American companies. This data includes financial statistics, in turn helping Fortune magazine identify top earners. The listing includes only large companies, and includes private and public entities. Ensuring transparency, Fortune magazine takes data from publicly available sources.
The most successful Fortune 500 companies also show adaptability by responding to consumer demands, emphasize good customer service, have sound long-term goals, enjoy exponential growth and make wise choices with financial capital. In addition to letting the public see the highest-earning organizations, the Fortune 500 listing indicates the health of America's economy, identifying areas of growth and decline.