Phrases like “Made in America” have become major selling points for many products in today’s markets, especially in the auto industry, where demonstrating which parts are made or assembled in American plants, rather than overseas, has become virtually a norm. However, sometimes it can be difficult to find out the exact impact of having operations in America. Which companies are actually investing in the United States, and which are not?
That was the question the Progressive Policy Institute decided to tackle when it published a report on the companies executing the most capital expenditures in the U.S. This year’s list, which looks at companies from the Fortune 150, contains a surprising number of investment by firms in the energy and telecom sectors. With both those areas being very capital intensive and investments dropping off slightly from sectors like tech and auto, either telecom or energy can account for more than the sum total of all of the other areas combined.
Many familiar companies — names like Ford (NYSE:F), General Motors (NYSE:GM), Disney (NYSE:DIS), Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) — made the top 25 list, but you won’t see them in the top 10. Narrowly missing the countdown of the six biggest capital spenders were energy companies Occidental Petroleum (NYSE:OXY), ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP), and Exelon (NYSE:EXC). With the domestic energy industry booming due to oil shale fields, it’s no surprise to see their names near the top of the pack.
Let’s take a look at the six companies with the highest capital expenditures in the U.S. in 2012.
6. Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT)
The first spot on our list goes to Wal-Mart, a company that spent $8.257 billion in capital in the U.S. in 2012. An iconic retail giant, Wal-Mart has shown that there is room in the sector to grow, expand, and thrive through times of economic hardship. It goes without saying that Wal-Mart is the highest-ranked company in the retail sector, with Target being the only other retail chain to make the cut for the top 25.
5. Intel Corp. (NASDAQ:INTC)
Next up, we check in with chip manufacturer Intel, which spent $8.769 billion on capital expenditures in the U.S. in 2012. There are many exciting things in the pipe for Intel, with its Broadwell line of chips set to debut next year and an endless string of opportunities for making chips designed for smart gear. If current trends in technology continue, Intel has no reason to worry and every reason to invest as much as it can in the U.S.
4. Chevron Corp. (NYSE:CVX)
The first energy company to crack the top six is oil giant Chevron, which had capital expenditures in the U.S. totaling $10.738 billion in 2012. Though the company has recently been in the news for an $18 billion settlement it’s fighting against — which Chevron alleges was fraudulently awarded — the case should not detract from the company’s strong record and upward-climbing stock performance over the past several years.
3. Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM)
We stay in the energy sector for Exxon Mobil, a company that spent $12.157 billion on capital in the U.S. in 2012. Though the company’s stock has been declining since the end of July, that is no reason to ignore Exxon Mobil’s massive domestic capital spending. Years after the notorious Exxon Valdez incident, the company continues to be the biggest name in big oil, and its marquee is still found on gas stations around the country.
2. Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ)
Our first telecom firm in the top six is a familiar brand that has made considerable headway in the industry over the past few years — Verizon. With capital expenditures in the U.S. of $15 billion in 2012, Verizon takes the No. 2 spot on our list. With a firm place among the top four wireless providers in the country, ongoing improvements to the company’s network, and the buyout of the Vodafone Group’s (NASDAQ:VOD) stake in Verizon Wireless, Verizon is expected to be a top performer moving into the years ahead.
1. AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T)
The top spot on this list — a carryover from last year’s rankings — goes to AT&T, a company that spent $19.456 billion on capital expenditures within U.S. borders in 2012. Because of the company’s link to the iPhone, as well as owning a significant share of the wireless market in general, investment in capital expenditures is paramount to the company’s success. The Progressive Policy Institute’s report notes that investments by companies like Verizon and AT&T open up other jobs, such as the estimated three-quarters of a million who are employed in positions related to mobile phone apps.
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