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Wal-Mart remains at top of Fortune 500 list

/ Source: The Associated Press

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. shrugged off weak consumer spending to remain atop the 2008 Fortune 500 list, edging Exxon Mobil Corp. for the second straight year in the magazine's annual ranking of the nation's largest publicly traded companies.

Fortune compiled its list based on companies' 2007 revenues. Wal-Mart raked in $378.8 billion in revenue last year, up 7.9 percent compared to 2006, and had $12.7 billion in profits, according to the list released Monday. The discount retailer has topped the list six times in the last seven years, having been unseated only by Exxon Mobil.

Though consumer spending fell sharply last year, Wal-Mart weathered the slowdown better than other retailers as shoppers have been trading down to cheaper stores amid a difficult economy, falling home values and increased unemployment.

Because the list is based on revenues rather than profits, Wal-Mart was able to come in ahead of Exxon Mobil, which was a close second with $372.8 billion but which far outdistanced the retailer in earnings, with $40.6 billion. Exxon Mobil's windfall was boosted by soaring energy demand and geopolitical instability that this year have pushed crude oil prices above $115 a barrel and gasoline prices to an average of $3.50 a gallon. Exxon Mobil last topped the Fortune 500 list in 2006.

Collectively, revenues for all companies listed reached $10.6 trillion last year, up 7.1 percent from 2006. However, profits dropped 17.8 percent over the same period, falling to $645.2 billion amid rising expenses including the price of oil.

Skyrocketing energy prices also helped other oil producers claim several of this year's top spots. ChevronTexaco Corp. moved up one place to No. 3 with $210.8 billion in revenue and $18.7 billion in profits. ConocoPhillips stayed the same at No. 5.

Declining U.S. auto sales battered General Motors Corp., which fell one position to No. 4 on revenue of $182.3 billion and a loss of $38.7 billion.

General Electric Co. came in sixth, followed by Ford Motor Co. in seventh place, Citigroup Inc. at No. 8 and Bank of America Corp. at No. 9. AT&T Inc. cracked the top 10, moving from No. 27 to tenth place.

Companies capitalizing on a global commodities boom were among the biggest winners of 2007. Freeport-MacMoran Copper & Gold Inc. shot from No. 398 in 2006 to No. 140, the biggest leap among all companies.

Among the biggest losers were homebuilders and saving institutions, which were buffeted by fallout from the subprime mortgage crisis that began rattling global markets late last year.

Falling the most on the list was title insurance company Fidelity National Financial Inc., which slipped 171 spots to No. 435.

New additions to the list included Kraft Foods Inc., Symantec Corp., PetSmart Inc. and BlackRock Inc., while those knocked from the list included H&R Block Inc., Hilton Hotels, Radioshack Corp. and Lucent Technologies.