Big oil takes the prize

Profits of the Fortune 500 companies went from $645 billion in 2007 to just $98.9 billion, plummeting 84.7 percent, in the worst showing in 55 years. No surprise, the biggest loser was insurance giant AIG, posting a $99.3 billion loss. Well, it’s still on the list, ranked at No. 245, down from No. 13 one year earlier.

Many other records were set. Eleven of the Top 25 largest corporate losses in list history took place last year, reports CBS Sunday Morning. Thirty-eight companies disappeared from the list altogether including Bear Stearns, Lehman Bros. and a last call for Anheuser Busch, now owned by InterBev. And the bubble burst for gum maker William Wrigley Jr., which merged with Mars Inc. On the record-breaking front, 15 women managed to break the glass ceiling, an all time high.

With profits of $45.22 billion, Exxon Mobil regains the No. 1 spot on the Fortune 500 Companies list this year, despite the sharp fall in oil prices. This is the fourth-straight year Exxon posted record profits. And just a personal gripe here: with all those profits, why doesn’t Exxon Mobil continue the tradition of Mobil, which used to exclusively sponsor Masterpiece Theatre, and support public television, which would be a nice write off for them.

Wal-Mart came in second, followed by Chevron, ConocoPhillips, General Electric, General Motors, Ford Motor, AT&T, Hewlett-Packard and Valero Energy rounding out the Top 10. Wal-Mart also took the No. 1 spot in the Global 500.

In the Food Production sector, Archer Daniels Midland (ranked 27on the Fortune list) topped the category, followed by Tyson Foods (ranked 89), Smithfield Foods (ranked 183), Pilgrim’s Pride (ranked 304), Chiquita Brands International (ranked 508), Seaboard (ranked 531), Corn Products International (ranked 560) and Sanderson Farms (ranked 998).