America’s 500 Biggest Companies

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Wal-Mart stayed on top as its sales crept closer to half-a-trillion dollars. Apple moved into the top five. And UnitedHealth Group continued its steady climb. For the full list, click here.

Wal-Mart Posts 21 Percent Drop In Q4 Profit
Wal-Mart Stores The retail giant held on to the top spot on the Fortune 500, edging out Exxon Mobil for the second year in a row. For fiscal year 2014, Wal-Mart’s net sales totaled $473.1 billion, up 1.6% from the year-earlier period. While its sales grew domestically, Wal-Mart said the expiration of a payroll tax cut, reductions in the U.S. food stamp program, and poor winter weather hurt its results. But in the U.S., Wal-Mart is bullish about its plans to open even more small stores, which compete with drugstores and small grocery stores.Justin Sullivan—Getty Images
Key Speakers At 21st World Petroleum Congress
Exxon Mobil In 2013, Exxon Mobil’s total revenue dropped 8.8% to $438.26 billion, and net income fell an even steeper 27%. Oil production took a tumble in 2013, all while capital and exploration expenditures increased. While Exxon has said it plans to start production at a record 10 major projects this year, capital spending is expected to decline 6.4% from 2012. Deepwater projects in the Gulf of Mexico and a liquefied natural gas project in Papua New Guinea are among the ventures scheduled for this year.Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images
General Views from Chevron Corp. Gas Stations
Chevron Chevron, the U.S.’s second-largest oil company after Exxon Mobil, posted a 5.4% decrease in total revenue in 2013, to $228.9 billion. Chevron Chief Executive John Watson said results were hurt by lower global crude oil prices and refining margins, as well as fewer asset sale gains and higher expenses. The company expects production will increase in 2015 and beyond. Chevron says it has also made progress with its projects in Australia and the Gulf of Mexico.Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images
Warren Buffett Speaks At Conference Focused On Detroit's Revitalization
Berkshire Hathaway Berkshire Hathaway’s per-share book value climbed 18.2% in 2013, but it underperformed the Standard & Poor’s 500 index, which grew by more than 32% with dividends. The company traditionally outperforms the S&P when the index falls or moderately rises, but falls short in years when the market is strong. Berkshire kicked off 2013 with a big-name acquisition, joining 3G Capital to pay $23 billion to acquire H.J. Heinz. The earnings boost from that deal, which closed in June, is expected to be substantial in 2014, according to Chief Executive Warren Buffett.Bill Pugliano—Getty Images
Apple Apple’s net sales keep climbing, as the tech giant continues to sell more iPhones and digital content. But the company faces pressure in the smartphone business, as Android phones grow increasingly dominant. Meanwhile, Apple reported an annual drop in net income in fiscal year 2013, a first in more than a decade. Activist investor Carl Icahn last year disclosed a stake in Apple and subsequently pushed for the company to spend billions on share buybacks. In April, the company increased the amount of shares it is authorized to repurchase and raised its quarterly dividend by 8%, and in late May it announced it was acquiring Beats Music and Beats Electronics for $3 billion. JOHANNES EISELE—AFP/Getty Images
US Gas Prices Increase
Phillips 66 The refining company reported a 4% dip in revenue in 2013 — the first full-year results since it separated from the exploration division of ConocoPhillips in 2012. Results were hurt by lower average prices for crude oil and petroleum products. Phillips 66 is planning to spend about 40% more on capital expenditures in 2014 compared to the prior year, as the company invests in its midstream and chemicals segments to capitalize on North America’s energy renaissance.Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images
Detroit Exteriors And Landmarks
General Motors GM’s troubles with its dangerously defective vehicles don’t appear to have hurt sales — at least not yet. In April, the automaker’s U.S. sales rose 7% from a year ago as CEO Mary Barra explained to Congress how GM would handle recalls of millions of its vehicles. This follows higher vehicle sales in 2013 across many key markets, including the U.S., South America and the Asia/Pacific. The company expects to spend $1.7 billion to cover the cost of its record-setting number of recalls so far in 2014.Paul Marotta—Getty Images
Ford Issues Recall For 850,000 2013-14 Vehicles
Ford Ford has benefitted from a stronger economic recovery in the U.S., as many drivers look to replace their aging vehicles. Executives also expect it to be profitable in North America this year, albeit at a lower level than in 2013. In Europe, where Ford has closed factories and cut thousands of jobs, the company expects to report a narrower loss in 2014 and achieve profitability the following year. Worldwide, Ford’s 2013 revenue increased 10% from the previous year to $146.9 billion, while profits climbed 26%.Joe Raedle—Getty Images
Engine Manufacturing At General Electric Aviation Ahead Of U.S. Manufacturing Data
General Electric GE kicked off 2013 with a large asset sale announcement, agreeing in February to sell its remaining stake in NBCUniversal’s joint venture with Comcast for $18.1 billion. Proceeds from that sale were used to accelerate both share buybacks and the conglomerate’s restructuring plans. In the year ahead, GE is looking to invest. In April, the company made an offer to to buy French firm Alstom’s power and grid businesses for nearly $17 billion — a deal that would, if approved, immediately boost GE’s earnings.Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images
A Valero Energy Corp. Gas Station Ahead Of Earnings Figures
Valero Valero has benefited from increased oil and gas production in North America, and the company has said domestic gasoline demand and margins look positive heading into the summer driving season. This comes after some big changes for the refining giant: Valero completed the spin off of its retail business, CST Brands, last year. And earlier this year, the company named its new CEO, Joe Gorder, who was previously the company’s chief operating officer.Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images
For the full list, click here.SAUL LOEB—AFP/Getty Images

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