What Is a Fortune 500 Company?


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A Fortune 500 company is a U.S. corporation that has been included on Fortune magazine's annual list of the top 500 companies ranked by an analysis of sales, assets, earnings and capitalization. This list represents a performance standard for U.S. companies and serves as an important analysis for researchers and investors.

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What Is a Fortune 500 Company?
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Full Answer

The first Fortune 500 list was published in 1955. The initial list was restricted to companies in the manufacturing, mining and energy industries. As of 2014, the list includes any corporation that is incorporated in the United States, operates within the country and files financial statements with a government agency. The analysis of which companies make the Fortune 500 list takes into account the financial information from the corporation's fiscal year.

The 2014 version of the Fortune 500 ranks Walmart Stores in the number one slot, with net sales of $473.1 billion. Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Berkshire Hathaway and Apple hold slots two through five, respectively. Movement up or down the list can affect public perception of a company and its management.

The Fortune 500 list is also used to create sublists that highlight important business-success measures. One of the popular Fortune 500 sublists is the annual ranking of the most admired companies by business reputation.

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