HOUSTON-- "It's tough to beat the kind of year ExxonMobil had in 2011," said Fortune magazine in declaring that Exxon Mobil Corp. had reclaimed the top spot in the Fortune 500 listing for 2012.
Shares rose by 20% and profits surged by 35% to $41.1 billion, and revenues jumped 28% to $452.9 billion, helping Exxon win the lead position back from Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
"Exxon has certainly benefited from rising oil prices, particularly during the last quarter of 2011," said the publication. "But the company has also positioned itself well to capitalize on the latest controversial trend in domestic energy production: Fracking. Exxon now produces just about as much gas as it does oil, thanks to its $35 billion purchase of XTO Energy in 2010."
As CEO Rex Tillerson told Fortune recently, "with world demand for energy expected to rise considerably during the coming decades, the shale gas party has just begun."
After ExxonMobil and Wal-Mart, the top 10 slots were rounded out by Chevron, ConocoPhillps, General Motors, General Electric, Berkshire Hathaway, Fannie Mae, Ford and Hewlett-Packard.
Chevron ended 2011 on a sour note, Fortune said. Despite rising oil prices, the company posted its biggest profit decline in two years, largely due to losses at its U.S. refinery business. Still, the second-largest oil and gas company in the U.S. managed to post a 25% increase in revenues during the full year, to $245.6 billion, and a 41% jump in profits, to $26.9 billion. Chevron is spending heavily on oil and gas projects in places like Australia, Africa and the Gulf of Mexico--projects that are expected to start paying off in 2014.
ConocoPhillips surprised many on Wall Street last year when it announced plans to break up into two publicly traded companies, one focused on exploration and production and another on refineries and marketing, called Phillips 66. The spinoff happened on April 30. Conoco officials hope the breakup will help it compete better internationally and unlock value by attracting more investors.
This Fortune 500 list was based on 2011 results, so the new changes for ConocoPhillips shareholders aren't reflected in the list. If they were, we'd see Phillips 66 in the No. 4 spot instead of the parent company, ConocoPhillips. The spinoff represents about 80% of the original company's total 2011 revenue--that still puts it ahead of the next company on this list, General Motors, the report said.
Other oil companies and convenience store companies joining ExxonMobil, Chevron and ConocoPhillips included Valero No. 12 (No. 24 in the previous year's ranking); Marathon Petroleum No. 31 (not previously ranked); Sunoco No. 61 (No. 68); Hess No. 74 (same); World Fuel Services No. 85 (No. 133); Murphy Oil No. 98 (No. 113); Tesoro No. 101 (No. 128); Marathon Oil No. 173 (No. 29); Western Refining No. 285 (No. 298); TravelCenters of America No. 329 (No. 385); The Pantry No. 347 (No. 363); Casey's No. 473 (No. 515) and Susser No. 486 (No. 577).
Other industry-related listings included Walgreen No. 32; Dollar General No. 183; Family Dollar No. 301; Dollar Tree No. 373; and Core-Mark No. 393.
Click here for the full 2012 Fortune 500 listing.