Apple’s Growing Power Reflected in #6 Ranking in Fortune 500

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Apple leapt nine spots to become the 6th rank company in the Fortune 500, Fortune magazine's list of the biggest companies by revenue. In 2012's rankings, Apple was ranked 17th, but revenues grew to US$156.5 billion, enough to rank it just behind fifth ranked Berkshire Hathaway.


Fortune's writeup on Apple:

Apple is bigger than ever -- the company cracked the Fortune 10 this year. But it’s a high-pressure job, being king of the hill. At Apple's press event this past October, it maintained more than disrupted with its software upgrades and iPad mini announcement.

Also, CEO Tim Cook had to apologize a lot in the past year -- once in September for the failure of Apple’s maps app, and then to Chinese consumers this April for slow repair services -- this in a market that Cook said this past January would be Apple's largest.

Still, when every executive wants to invent the iPod of ___, Apple remains an innovation icon.

As noted above, Fortune's ranking is determined by revenue. At the top of the list is Wal-mart, with revenues of $469.2 billion, three times Apple's. On the other hand, Apple's profits of $41.73 billion for calendar 2012 were almost three times Wal-mart's profits of $17 billion.

Impressive as they are, however, Apple's earnings would only be enough to secure the #2 spot behind ExxonMobil. Ranked as the second largest company with $449.9 billion in revenue, the energy giant earned $44.9 billion in profits. The next closest company was energy giant Chevron, the #3 company with $233.9 billion in revenue and $26.2 billion in earnings.

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Somewhere here is a morality tale about income inequality and concentration of wealth into the hands of the few, but we'll leave that for others to tell. The point that will be more interesting to most folks reading this is that Fortune's list is an excellent demonstration of just how big a deal Apple has become.

Yes, we've all known that Apple is the world's most valuable corporation (the company has traded places with ExxonMobil many times, but is currently on top). In terms of revenue, however, there is a massive difference between the top two (Wal-mart and ExxonMobil) and the rest of the top ten.

At the same time, Apple's earnings are second, sandwiched between two energy giants who benefit from billions in government subsidies. Of course, Apple has become a pioneer in tax avoidance, and only recently found that it was cheaper to borrow $17 billion from the bond markets than it was to repatriate billions in overseas profits and take a tax hit.

Our point is that Apple is playing on a level that moves the needle. The company's taxes and politics (think: China) are growing more and more complex on a daily basis, and there is a lot of wealth tied up in Apple's stock.

Fun times.

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James Leo Ryan

It looks like The Mac Observer and The New York Times have something in common in that they spell Walmart as Wal-mart, a spelling that was discontinued several years ago!  grin

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