News Column

Apple Replaces HP on Fortune Top 10

May 6, 2013

Jeremy C. Owens

apple fortune 500

Apple made its first foray into the top 10 of the Fortune 500 list, replacing Silicon Valley's previous top-10 tech entry, Hewlett-Packard, which fell steeply while recording the biggest loss of any company to make the list in 2013.

Fortune magazine released its annual list of the largest companies in the United States by revenues Monday, finding that the list pulled in 2.7 percent more in revenues in 2012 than 2011 while profits dipped 0.5 percent. The Mercury News found a similar trend, but with larger swings, in its SV150 list of Silicon Valley's largest technology companies, where revenues increased 9.1 percent while profits fell 12.4 percent. Fortune 500 tech companies saw profits drop 5.8 percent, the fifth-best performance among ten sectors of the list, which was led by a 33.5 percent boost in financial sector profits.

Palo Alto's Hewlett-Packard was a big contributor to profit losses, as the company continued to pull in nine-digit revenues but posted the biggest loss of the Fortune 500 companies -- $12.7 billion, according to Fortune's calculations -- due to massive write-downs on two acquisitions. HP had been Silicon Valley's sole technology representative in the top 10 of the Fortune 500 in the past five years, showing up in 10th place in 2012 and also ranking high enough in 2010 and 2009, but fell to No. 15 on the

2013 list.

HP's replacement in the top 10 is Apple, which took a huge leap to No. 6 from a No. 17 ranking on the 2012 list -- then its highest ranking in corporate history. The Cupertino tech giant has made leapfrogging HP on such lists a habit, displacing the company from the top of the SV150 in 2012 and maintaining the crown in 2013.

"Apple is bigger than ever ... but it's a high-pressure job, being king of the hill," Fortune proclaimed in its write-up of the company, reiterating Apple's inability to wow observers with new advances of late and CEO Tim Cook's need to apologize to customers for its widely derided Maps app and Chinese warranty and repair rules.

No other Silicon Valley technology companies placed in the top 50, though three other tech firms ranked that high: No. 20 IBM, No. 35 Microsoft and No. 49 Amazon.

Silicon Valley's biggest IPO of 2012 barely managed to land on the Fortune 500 on its first attempt: Menlo Park-based Facebook came in at No. 482, sandwiched between wireless carrier MetroPCS and East Coast energy company Pepco Holdings. Facebook's entry to the list made Mark Zuckerberg easily the youngest CEO of a Fortune 500 list, with the social network's cofounder turning 29 on May 14; the only other Fortune 500 CEO younger than 40 is Yahoo's Marissa Mayer, who will turn 38 on May 30. Yahoo barely stayed on the list in 2013, coming in at No. 494, down from No. 483 in 2012.

In all, 18 Silicon Valley tech companies made the Fortune 500 list, and 12 non-tech companies from the Bay Area joined them. While Apple is the largest tech company on the list, it is not tops in the Bay Area -- San Ramon-based Chevron maintained its top-5 ranking, coming in at No. 3 overall. Oil companies dominated the top 5, taking three of the top 5 spots, but Exxon Mobil lost the No. 1 ranking to Wal-Mart to place second; Phillips 66 is No. 4. Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway ranked No. 5, outpacing Apple by $6 billion with $162.5 billion in revenue.

Wal-Mart and Exxon have traded the top spot back and forth since 2001, and are two of only three companies to claim that title in the list's history, which dates back to 1955; General Motors dominated the list before that period, claiming the No. 1 ranking 37 times with only Exxon breaking its long run at the top.

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(c)2013 the San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.)

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