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The Fortune 500 is a list of the largest 500 companies in the United States ranked by total revenue. Since 1955, Fortune magazine has published the annual list, and it is considered one of the most well-known corporate rankings. The Fortune 500 list can be found online and in the print edition of the magazine.

Companies on the list come from a variety of sectors, such as technology, retail, healthcare and finance. These companies are known as some of the most influential in the world, and the list includes both privately-held and publicly-traded companies.

Here’s how companies make the list, the history behind the ranking and the top 10 companies for the past two years.

What qualifies a Fortune 500 company?

To be eligible for the Fortune 500 list, a company must be for-profit, publicly traded or privately held, and be a U.S.-based entity with financial statements filed with a U.S. government agency. The company must have revenue that placed it in the top 500 U.S. companies.

What’s the ranking methodology?

To create the list, the largest U.S. companies are ranked by total revenues for their respective fiscal years. For instance, the 2023 list uses numbers from 2022. Each company included must operate within the U.S. and have filed financial statements with a government agency for at least three quarters of the current fiscal year. Revenue numbers come from company filings and include consolidated subsidiaries as well as revenues from discontinued operations (with an exception for spin-off companies that make the list — they’re excluded). Profits are shown after taxes and before preferred dividends of the company.

An editor supervises the preparation of the list and an accounting specialist typically reviews and verifies company income statements and balance sheets. You can find the names and details of who was involved in creating the list under the “credits” section on the methodology page on Fortune.

The top 10 Fortune 500 companies

The top-ranked companies for 2023 and 2022 are listed below. Walmart has topped the list for the past 11 consecutive years. The 2024 list will be announced in late May.

Rank Top 10 Fortune 500 Companies 2023 Top 10 Fortune 500 Companies 2022
1 Walmart Walmart
2 Amazon Amazon
3 Exxon Mobil Apple
4 Apple CVS Health
5 UnitedHealth Group UnitedHealth Group
6 CVS Health Exxon Mobil
7 Berkshire Hathaway Berkshire Hathaway
8 Alphabet Alphabet
9 McKesson McKesson
10 Chevron AmerisourceBergen

The history of the Fortune 500 list

While the magazine was founded in 1929 with the start of the Great Depression, the first Fortune 500 list wasn’t published until 1955. Edgar P. Smith, the assistant managing editor of Fortune, is credited for the idea.

Originally, the list only included mining, manufacturing and energy industry companies. The top three companies in 1955 were General Motors (with annual revenues of $9.8 billion), Exxon Mobil (with $5.6 billion), and U.S. Steel (with $3.2 billion).

In 1995, Fortune announced it would be including service companies, such as McDonald’s, Walmart and AT&T. Since the change, service companies had primarily made up the majority of the list.

Where can you find the Fortune 500 company list?

The Fortune 500 list is usually released in late May of each year and can be found online or in the June/July print issue. Non-subscribers can buy a single print copy if they prefer a physical version.

Bottom line

The Fortune 500 list is a comprehensive and influential guide to the current state of the American economy. Published annually by Fortune magazine, it ranks the top 500 companies in the United States by total revenue. The 2024 list gets released in late May.

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