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Wal-Mart has been booming since the recession began, and with 2008 sales of $406 billion dollars, the retail giant had its best year ever. That didn't stop Wal-Mart from losing its grip on first place in the Fortune 500, though, as Exxon Mobil smoked all comers with $443 billion in sales last year. Exxon Mobil also topped all companies in profits last year, tallying a cool $45 billion in revenue.

Exxon Mobil's ascent to the top of the Fortune 500 comes as little surprise given the ridiculous rise of oil over the spring and summer of 2008. Oil rose from $60-$80 per barrel in 2007 to $147 per barrel in July, 2008. Even the surprising drop to under $40 per barrel in December didn't put a damper in Exxon Mobil's record year.

Exxon Mobil wasn't the only oil company to shine in 2008, as Chevron and ConocoPhillips moved up to third and fourth place. ConocoPhillips wasn't all smiles in 2008, though, as its over exposure to the money losing oil refineries resulted in $17 billion in losses last year. General Motors and Ford Motor Company finished sixth and seventh, respectively, on this year's list.

[Source: CNN Money]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 28 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      montoym,
      Everytime I hear an excuse to defend the oil "free market" (quotes because I don't think anyone believes the free market determines the price), I am highly suspicious of the source. The profits are unarguably outrageous, egregious, horrific, gargantuan, etc. (running out of words). To collect these kinds of record breaking profits while Americans are struggling and the auto industry is just about collapsed is criminal. It's true that the U.S. auto makers were in trouble anyways, but these wildly fluctuating prices certainly didn't help.
        • 6 Years Ago
        you think a 10% profit on business is "too much"

        Just because YOU are unable to wrap your head around the economics and the actual numbers doenst mean the industry needs to be put under government control. Yeah 400 billion in revenue sounds like a lot, so does 40-something billion in profit. It's a world wide company, of course the numbers are going to be huge.

        What do you want to happen? Let the government get it's hand in the cookie jar and screw it up just like they do on everything else?

        People are free to do whatever they want, if a business making money pisses you off don't buy gasoline period. Have fun walking to work, or taking a bike.

        let's say you get your way and any and all profit is removed from the game, what incentive does ANYONE have to run a worldwide oil, refining, and petroleum business? Answer: none - and when that happens we all go back to the stone age.

        Get off your high horse and take an economics class - for every dollar they spent they got $1.10 in return (approx). That is totally fair.
        • 6 Years Ago
        They make somewhere around 8% profit. The market is HUGE, because people have to get to THEIR jobs, too.

        If you still work for anyone, or run your own business, there is probably a 50% chance that the company you are associated with makes more than 8% profit most years.

        OPEC manipulates prices, but ExxonMobile, and other US-based energy companies do not set them, they are subject to them. I agree that OPEC is not free market, and not a good thing. But what exactly is ExxonMobile doing that is egregiously bad? They aren't selling NOTHING, like Enron was.

        They sell energy to you, and to me, and to 300 million other people, to get around, and to do our things. Energy use is a fact of life. Even cave men needed firewood.

        Getting all indignant about a high number is useless, pointless, and mis-directed. It is a big number, because the number of CUSTOMERS is also a big number, and so is Walmart's customer base, which E/M topped on the F500 list.

        So, unless you want to walk to work, and build a fire in your living room to keep warm, and kill your food fresh everyday, because you can't preserve things with refridgeration, then lay off.

        I hope energy gets less expensive due to market forces making energy companies more efficient, but that is the essence of letting the market work. Energy-holding fuels bring us heat, cooling, mobility, electrical power, and the ability to do our work and daily activities well. Of course it is a HUGE industry, with LARGE numbers associated with it.

        If they are screwing with things, and causing trouble, then once that is established and proven, many, many people, including me will decry that abuse or fraud. Otherwise it is business as usual.

        The government getting into this will most surely produce rationing, and all kinds of drawbacks. Government has no idea how to do anything right, not even what they SHOULD do right, let alone getting into other people's business.
        • 6 Years Ago
        JJ -

        It was the govt. not getting its hands on proper oversight of the commodities market - thanks to the lobbyists who paid for the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 and Phil Gramm - which resulted in the astronomical rise in the price of oil and the consequent oil bubble.

        As a result, instead of the futures market acting as it has historically as a "safety valve", the futures market became a haven for speculators led by the big banks and hedge funds - which poured $$ into oil futures.

        It's the same deregulation and lack of oversight which resulted in the banking institutions to leverage themselves up the whazoo and basically gamble on risky financial instruments such as credit default swaps and other financial derivatives - where betting wrong resulted in economic catastrophe.
        • 6 Years Ago
        "Record breaking profits" is a bit of a misnomer: for selling $ 443 billion worth of oil (revenue), making $45 billion (profits) is actually not that impressive. It works out to about 10% profit, which - as pointed out earlier - really isn't that much.

        Please understand that ExxonMobil made $45 billion because we (as a global society) purchased $443 billion worth of their product. All a given company controls is their profit margin, not how much product the consumers buy.

        Also keep in mind that the oil retailers do not entirely control the cost of their raw material (oil barrels in this case). They have to purchase that from whoever pumps it out of the ground. Yes, they can pump it out themselves to lower their cost, but that requires capital. Both options require them to raise their raw material costs, which then raises the end cost to the customer, even if their profit margin stays constant.

        Finally, let's remember that these companies employ hard-working people at all levels, and that in order to do so, they need to stay profitable. Do we really need more job cuts at this point in time? Is that something any of us would really wish on any of our fellow men?
        • 6 Years Ago
        On a similar note, while Exxon-Mobil is a huge company, it pales in comparison to state-owned oil companies. Exxon-Mobil is a relatively small player in the Global oil industry despite what so many think.

        http://www.petrostrategies.org/Links/worlds_largest_oil_and_gas_companies.aspx

        Note how many companies are listed before E/M and how much more oil they control than E/M.

        So, why do we hear so much about E/M?

        For one, it's an American company so it makes sense that we'd hear more about it here.

        The larger reason though, is that E/M is a publicly-traded company. As such, it is required to open its books and reveal its revenue, profit, losses etc. State-owned and private comapnies don't have to reveal that info(and virtually none do).

        If any of the state-owned companies near the top of the list were to give as much detail about their profits as E/M is required to, no one would even mention the profits that E/M makes. Except perhaps to compare them to the state-owned companies which would be many times higher.
        • 6 Years Ago
        While we are at it, I hope the government caps the amount of money you are allowed to earn because your salary is "unarguably outrageous, egregious, horrific, gargantuan, etc. (running out of words)." For you to be paid what you are paid while "Americans are struggling and the auto industry is just about collapsed is criminal."
        • 6 Years Ago
        And also don't forget that since profits are denominated in dollars that could be a nuisance as well. Why? Well don't forget that the main reason why oil went up to $150 a barrel wasn't just speculation as many would wrongly like to have you believe, but rather due to a crashing dollar. We had inflation that was close to turning into hyper-inflation. Fortunately when world recession hit, investors had no choice, but to cover the positions and demand for dollar went up. Same thing with the bond market. Although to me it seems like jumping out a frying pan and into the fire. I don't believe US dollar is a sound currency.
      • 6 Years Ago
      does that bother anyone else that we pay all that money to fill our tanks up? i mean what other choice do we have but to pay what the gas station asks. and they are the most profitable company out there.
        • 6 Years Ago
        No, it doesn't bother me at all. Would it be nice if it was cheaper? Sure, but its supply and demand that dictates the market price as they found out last summer when they went above the $3 barrier.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Paul -

        The astronomical rise in the price of oil had little to do w/ "supply and demand" and had a whole lot more to do w/ the rampant speculation by financial institutions and hedge funds which poured billions of dollars into oil futures (thanks to Phil Gramm and the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 - which btw, also contained the "Eron Loophole"; it's no coincidence that Gramm;s wife served on the Board of Enron).

        Last Spring, demand was down in the US and the Saudis had significantly raised production and yet, oil continued to skyrocket in price.

        I also have an issue w/ excessive executive compensation.

        While I don't a problem w/ top executive making millions, executive pay has really gotten out of whack the past few decades (but that's hardly surprising since executives have all the incentives to grant excessive pay packages since they all serve on each others boards).

        Few executives are worth tens, much less multiples of tens of millions in compensation a year (entrepreuners who start their own companies, otoh, are a diff. matter).

        The current and past CEOs of Exxon-Mobil have gotten a windfall simply due to the price of oil skyrocketing due to all the speculators rather than either of them doing anything brilliant regarding running Exxon-Mobil (really, what retiring CEO is worth $400 million or deserving of $28 million in compensation in 2008?).
      • 6 Years Ago
      Chris Skunk: You are such a Drama Queen. Why is this even a story?
      • 6 Years Ago
      Does anyone besides me think it's time to take control of this idiocy? Federal price controls, now.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Absolutely!!!

        Let's take control of this right now. Today.

        Everyone buy an electric car, and get solar installed on their roof. Demand for oil will plummet, and the Middle East will return to being filled with sand and tents.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Herkimer: And read a similar news article next year, written by the same socialists who are now upset by the record breaking profits at the Kumbaya Electric Car Company.

        • 6 Years Ago
        Hardly.

        Price controls(ceilings or floors) do much more harm than good in the long run.

        But, beyond that sidebar, the rankings will look dramatically different next year with oil nowhere near the highs we saw last year. The "only" reason the oil companies made as much as they did was the high price of oil.

        Not to beat a dead horse, but their margins are lower than a ton of other industries. It's just that they sell a ton of what they have. It's also impossible not to make a huge profit when the price of what you sell increase 250% in the course of a year.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Looks like some here are jealous.
      • 6 Years Ago
      "Exxon Mobil also topped all companies in profits last year, tallying a cool $45 billion in revenue."

      I hate redundancy, especially when it isn't done correctly. Bad autoblog.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Wish I owned that business. The product sells itself.
      • 6 Years Ago
      calculate the % of profit from sales with all the companies on the fortune 500...
      Exxon made $443 billion in sales and made $45 billion in profit... thats not a great %... they are doing a lot of business not making a whole lot of money..
        • 6 Years Ago
        Have another sip of cool-aid. CEOs go home with a much healthier looking margin than that.
      • 6 Years Ago
      That's ridiculous, I would say the government should do something about this, but they have. They want high gas prices...

      I seriously don't think they need that much profit to upkeep their refineries, oil platforms, etc.
        • 6 Years Ago
        The government wants higher fuel prices in the form of taxes...taxes which would be used for infrastructure, education, and health care.

        It's not *entirely* about making the oil companies the richest.
        • 6 Years Ago
        The government makes more off a gallon of fuel than the oil company does, if people are willing to pay the price then that's what it will be, I just wish the government was more like the oil company and could actually manage the billions it takes in every year off of gas taxes alone.
        • 6 Years Ago
        You'd be happier if they were running their business straight into the ground like GM?
      • 6 Years Ago
      @Jeff Johnson (continued)

      "People are free to do whatever they want, if a business making money pisses you off don't buy gasoline period. Have fun walking to work, or taking a bike."

      It's that easy eh? Just stop buying it! LOL, ever heard that the lives, work and income of individuals, manufacturing and a load of other industries DEPEND ON OIL?

      Now go tell DuPont, US Steel, Dow Chemical, Vons, GM, US Airways, American Airlines and 1000 others that "they should just stop buying oil!".

      You so-called Patriots and "defenders of freedom" are unbelievable, un-fukkin believable man.
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