Apple Claws its Way to the Top of This List

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is now up to the 17th spot on Fortune’s annual ratings of the 500 largest companies in America, rising 18 spots from last year, but on pure profitability it places as high as third. Only two oil giants now beat it on that measure, both older and more massive in terms of location as well as the number of employees.

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Apple’s $25.9 billion in profits last year, a growth of 86 percent, put it behind Exxon Mobil’s (NYSE:XOM) $41.6 billion and the $26.9 billion of Chevron (NYSE:CVX). Technology competitor Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) sits in fourth place with profits of $23.2 billion.

Fortune’s overall top 500 list ranks corporations according to revenue instead of profit. Exxon Mobil is also top of that list, with $453 billion in revenue, overtaking Wal-Mart’s (NYSE:WMT) $447 billion.

Apple’s first-ever move into the top-20 with revenue of $108 billion comes after a strong year-over-year revenue growth, which saw earnings per share nearly double in 2011. The company is offering shareholders a dividend for the first time since 1995. Exxon, the world’s largest oil company, has more than 10,000 locations around the world, while Apple has only 363 retails stores. Wal-Mart has 2.2 million employees to Apple’s 60,000.

Apple’s revenue performance in the “Computers and Office Equipment” industry was topped only by Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ), which finished 10th overall with its $127 billion in revenue.

With its strong performance in the first two quarters of fiscal 2012, Apple has also put itself in a position to rise even higher in the overall list next year. Its total revenues over the two quarters were $85.5 billion. In the second quarter, its $11.6 billion in profit on revenue of $39.19 billion revenue represented a 94 percent growth year-to-year.

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