Exxon Tops Forbes Global 2000 Ranking… Big Companies Still Pretty Big

As I wrote about in MediaPost, a few weeks ago I had the tremendous pleasure of attending the NYT Energy for Tomorrow conference. Awesome event (GORGEOUS setting in the Times Center) that sparked some lively conversations about the very exciting (ahem, potential) future of renewable resources (hellloooo wind farms). 

Then, this past week I made the shocking discovery that the majority of my (incredibly smart and well-informed) millennial undergraduate students had never heard of the Exxon Valdez oil spill! Which rather disturbingly validates the power of PR and the vagaries of memory. (And I say that as a very happy, not-completely-jaded, PR professional).

So, I find it apropos that yesterday’s ninth annual Forbes Global 2000 ranking published with Exxon Mobile at the top of the heap. 

For background, the Forbes Global 2000 is a ranking of the most profitable public companies. However, instead of just using a single metric such as sales, the team at Forbes evaluates companies on the basis of a combination of factors, such as sales, profit, assets and market value. 

Interesting list, though not completely unsurprising, especially as it demonstrates China’s very steady financial progress. The ranking includes companies from 66 countries with the US and Japan still headquartering the majority of the list, although Forbes does note that they have a combined 14 fewer entries this year. China has the third largest number of companies with 15 more members this year than last year. 

Speaking of oil spills we may forget in 15 years, most surprising to me was BP’s staggering return to the top 25 — up from THREE HUNDRED AND NINETY last year. They’re back to being profitable in 2011, going from having a $3.3 billion net loss to making over $26 billion in net income. Suddenly that $13 billion that the company has said it spent on the spill doesn’t seem quite so large. Maybe they can spend some to help the mutant, eyeless shrimp and one-armed crabs that are currently horrifying fishermen in the Gulf?

Your top ten: 

1. Exxon Mobile

2. JP Morgan Chase

3. General Electric

4. Royal Dutch Shell



7. Petro China

8. Berkshire Hathaway

9. Wells Fargo

10. Petrobras-Petroleo Brasil