You can measure the size of a company any number of ways. Market capitalization, the total market value of all shares outstanding and profit margin might work for some companies, but you can also measure a company by total value of assets owned.
Today we will look at total revenue, the total amount of gross the company brings in. All of these companies are ranked by their revenues in US dollars.
Keep in mind that some of them prepare their books in other currencies, so the dollar value of the revenue they bring in is subject to change based on the exchange rate at any given time. Also, some companies don’t use the same US calendar, so the list compares a few different years.
Despite the occasional accusations of worker mistreatment, the retail chain headquartered in Bentonville, Arkansas employs over 2 million people and raked in over $413 billion in 2009. Wondering what $413 billion means for profit? Well Wal-Mart cleared a net income of $14.33 billion.
2. Exxon Mobil
The oil and gas giant comes in a very very distant second, selling slick crude to the tune of $310.5 billion last year. If you’re looking for a CEO name that fits a company perfectly, look no further than Rex W. Tillerson who heads Exxon Mobil from their Ivine, Texas headquarters.
3. Royal Dutch Shell
The first international company to earn top dollar, Shell comes in third with $278.1 billion in revenue. Royal Dutch Shell operates in over 140 countries and is headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands.
4. British Petroleum
This London-based fuel giant raked in $246.1 billion last year, several billion of which will go to cleanup costs and settle of claims after this year’s Deepwater Horizon disaster. After a CEO resignation and a public relations nightmare, it’s unclear how fast (if at all) BP will rebound.
5. Saudi Aramco
Government owned and operated, Saudi Aramco brought in $216 billion in 2007. Saudi Aramco also operates the world’s largest single hydrocarbon network, known as the Master Gas System.
Getting away from oil for just a second, the Japanese automotive manufacturer brought in $205 billion through March of this year. Similar to BP, Toyota will have quite the task of maintaining popularity through extreme customer complaints.
The Korean conglomerate sold phones, televisions, and other products to the tune of $178.3 billion in 2007. Samsung has gradually taken over the market share from Sony, who is now mostly considered a second or third rate provider.
Add another gas giant to the list because Chevron grossed $171.6 billion in 2009. Chevron trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol CVX and is headquartered in San Ramon, California.
The last of the fossil fuel companies making the top 10, this Chinese oil and gas company grossed the equivalent of $165.4 billion in 2007. 400,000 employees make up Sinopec, whose business includes oil and gas exploration, refining, and marketing; production and sales of petrochemicals, chemical fibers, chemical fertilizers, and other chemical products
10. ING Group
Last on our list is a worldwide financial services provider based in Amsterdam. Its revenues amounted to $165.4 billion in 2009 and ING Direct currently offers US customers the opportunity to open a savings account, checking account or CD.
You’ll find that the most revenue generating business is, by far, fuel related. Companies with work in drilling, extracting, and refining oil and gas make up six of the top ten highest grossing companies in the world. Other industries are only represented once on the list. Those include retail, automobiles, financial services, and one conglomerate.
Of course, whether or not these are the most profitable industries is another story entirely. To figure that out, you would need to know how much of their revenue is going into business costs. And it certainly doesn’t give much indication of how well positioned these companies are for growth, or whether or not investing in them suits your investment needs and strategy.
To do that, figure out your financial objectives, and then take a deep look at your strategy for achieving them, and consider the data and management of these companies. When in doubt, consult a qualified professional.
Published or updated April 4, 2013.