- Energy sector takes starring role; Saudi Aramco No. 2 in revenue but leader in profits, with highest annual total ever for a Fortune Global 500 company
- 2023 Ranking Features 142 Chinese companies, 136 U.S., 41 Japanese, 30 German; Japan and France shrink to all-time lows
- Amazon, Apple, UnitedHealth, CVS among leading U.S. companies on FORTUNE list; U.S. reaches its highest company total since 2010, and is highest as stand-alone country in 2023
- The number of female CEOs rose to 29 in 2023 from 24 in 2022
- New and returning companies include Warner Bros. Discovery, Salesforce, Uber, Lufthansa, HD Hyundai, Daimler Truck; China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology and Meituan; and new energy and natural resource companies such as Canadian Natural Resources
SINGAPORE, Aug. 3, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Today, FORTUNE announced that U.S. retailer Walmart topped the Fortune Global 500 (™) list for 2023, ranking the world’s largest corporations by revenue for fiscal 2022. On Fortune’s authoritative ranking of the (current) corporate world order, the Arkansas-based retailer claimed No. 1 for the 10th consecutive year and for the 18th time since 1995. Walmart joins a spike in the number of U.S. companies on the Global 500 this year, reaching its highest total since 2010 at 136 companies, which is also the highest for a stand-alone country.
The strength of the global energy sector was dramatically clear as Saudi Aramco nearly knocked the retail Goliath from its perch. Saudi Aramco (No. 2) benefitted from soaring energy prices—fueled by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine—that also propelled Exxon Mobil (No. 7) and Shell (No. 9) back into the top 10 by revenue. In profits, Saudi Aramco earned $159 billion, the highest annual total ever for a Fortune Global 500 company.
Big Tech, meanwhile, proved it also remains a robust and profitable sector. Together, Apple, Alphabet, and Microsoft brought in $233 billion in net income, with Apple (No. 8) earning just short of $100 billion in profits, the most ever by a U.S. company.
There were 39 newcomers to this year’s Fortune Global 500, including 23 companies making their debut, such as Warner Bros. Discovery (No. 449), plus first time Chinese companies, Contemporary Amperex Technology (No. 292) and Meituan (No. 467).
There are 16 companies returning to the list after at least a one-year hiatus, such as Colombia’s Ecopetrol (No. 397) and France’s Air Liquide (No. 488).
By geography, Chinese companies in total – Greater China: mainland China including Hong Kong, and adding Taiwan – top this year’s Global 500 with 142 companies. But the 136 U.S. companies generated more revenue in 2022—$13 trillion to Greater China’s $11.7 trillion. An economic slump, tighter regulation, and the lingering impact of COVID restrictions in mainland China hurt revenue at consumer-facing companies such as Alibaba (No. 68), Tencent (No. 147), and JD.com (No. 52).
THE 2023 FORTUNE GLOBAL 500 TOP 10 LIST:
- Walmart (U.S.)
- Saudi Aramco (Saudi Arabia)
- State Grid (China)
- Amazon.com (U.S.)
- China National Petroleum (China)
- Sinopec (China)
- Exxon Mobil (U.S.)
- Apple (U.S.)
- Shell (Britain)
- UnitedHealth Group (U.S.)
Germany added two companies this year for a total of 30, its highest since 2018. German companies saw double-digit aggregate revenue growth of 18.9%, and its aggregate revenue of $2.5 trillion was fourth highest among countries, right behind Japan at $2.8 trillion. BMW (No. 57) was the most profitable global automaker on the list. Volkswagen (No. 15) was the biggest company in the country and the biggest global automaker.
France lost a company from a year ago and hit an all-time low of only 24 companies on this year’s list. In the late ’90s, France had the third highest number of companies on the list with 42 representatives. France’s aggregate revenue of $1.7 trillion was fifth highest among all countries, right behind Germany. It was also the fifth largest employer on the list with 3.8 million global employees. TotalEnergies (No. 20) was the biggest and most profitable company in the country.
The 142 Fortune Global 500 companies on this year’s list based in Greater China is up from 95 a decade ago. Mainland China, including Hong Kong, has 135 this year, and there are seven based in Taiwan. Greater China has more companies on the list than the U.S. ‘s 136 for the fifth year in a row; its companies boasted $11.7 trillion in revenue, but that total trails the U.S.
The four biggest Chinese banks, ICBC (No.28), China Construction Bank (No. 29), Agricultural Bank of China (No. 32), and Bank of China (No. 49) rang up $174.1 billion in profits in 2022. Each bank has at least $4 trillion in assets on its balance sheet. Of note, there are 118 government-owned Fortune Global 500 companies on the list; more than two-thirds of those are based in China.
Saudi Arabia’s Aramco (No.2) is the only representative from that country on the list, but it was notable: The company netted $159 billion in earnings and was the Fortune Global 500’s most profitable company. Saudi Aramco eclipsed $600 billion in revenues, growth of 51%. In the past five years, Saudi Aramco has earned $513 billion in profits. Of note, Saudi Arabia is one of 12 countries/territories with only one Fortune Global 500 representative, including Austria, Colombia, Poland, and Thailand.
Fortune Global 500 companies generated revenues totaling $41 trillion—more than one-third of the world’s GDP—for an increase of 8% over last year. Cumulative profits were down 7% from last year at $2.9 trillion. Companies on the 2023 list employ 70.1 million people worldwide and are based in 232 cities and 33 countries/territories and regions around the world. The number of women CEOs of Fortune Global 500 companies rose to 29 this year, from 24 last year.
FORTUNE Editor-in-Chief Alyson Shontell writes in the issue that this year’s list has an underlying theme: “Even the world’s largest companies can be upended and dethroned.”
Walmart, the largest company by revenue in the world for 10 years, “needs to watch its back,” she writes. Because of the “Ukraine war’s impact on oil and gas prices and Saudi Arabia’s ability to cheaply pump oil from its immense reserves, Saudi Aramco had a banner year.” But she notes the Saudi government, which controls Aramco, is plowing its profits into green-tech R&D and a host of other industries.
Fortune’s Global 500 issue, Shontell notes, also casts a spotlight on how Alphabet (No. 17) “is facing a classic innovator’s dilemma thanks to generative A.I., as explained in the latest issue by FORTUNE’s Jeremy Kahn. Alphabet’s Google has thrown significant money and expertise at A.I., but that same revolutionary technology is threatening the search business that has fueled Google’s profit-making machine since the 2000s. And the No. 1 Threatener is Microsoft (No. 30) thanks to its partnership with ChatGPT creator OpenAI,” notes Shontell.
“Whoever builds the best mousetrap in generative A.I., whether it’s Google, or Microsoft, or Meta (No. 81), or some as-yet-unknown startup, could transform how the world searches for information,” writes Shontell.
FORTUNE’s List editor, Scott DeCarlo said, “The corporations on our annual list of the world’s largest companies showed their muscle in 2022, delivering record-high revenue, and in some cases, profits. But the Fortune Global 500, the ultimate scorecard for business success, has been anything but static, as technological change and scientific breakthroughs threaten established leaders and elevate emerging new winners.”
Companies are ranked by total revenues for their respective fiscal years ending on or before March 31, 2023. All companies on the list must publish financial data and report part or all of their figures to a government agency. The latest figures in the list are as reported by the companies; any comparisons are with the prior year’s figures as originally reported. FORTUNE does not restate the prior year’s figures for changes in accounting.
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