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The Number One: Walmart, Amazon and Apple top the 2021 Fortune 500 list — here’s what they have in common

The latest Fortune 500 list of the largest U.S. companies hit on Wednesday, and Walmart
WMT,
-0.32%

remained the ranking’s revenue king for the ninth year in a row. 

The retail giant, which approached half a trillion dollars in revenue last year, was one of many companies on this list that saw a bump during the COVID-19 pandemic. Walmart’s e-commerce sales spiked 79% as shoppers took advantage of the company’s shipping and curbside pickup options once closures and social distancing guidelines forced more people to buy their groceries and household necessities online. 

Related: Walmart may have lost grocery share during COVID, but it’s well positioned to get it back

From Barron’s: Walmart is a COVID-19 Winner

The societal shift toward online shopping also naturally gave Amazon
AMZN,
-0.21%

a boost, helping the online retailer hold onto its No. 2 spot on the Fortune 500 list for the second year in a row. The Seattle company earned $21.3 billion in profit on more than $386 billion in annual sales, and revenue grew 38% in 2020. In fact, Amazon’s latest earnings release revealed that it made more profit between April 2020 and March 31, 2021 ($26.9 billion) than its previous three years combined ($24.7 billion.) 

Read more: Amazon’s pandemic profits top previous 3 years of earnings

Related: It’s official: Amazon Prime Day is June 21-22 globally

Apple
AAPL,
-0.04%

rounded out the Fortune 500’s big three by revenue with $275 billion for the fiscal year, but it ranks No. 1 as the most profitable company on the list by being valued at well over $1 trillion (and flirting with $2 trillion a couple of times.) And as more people have pivoted to working from home and/or taking classes online, iPad and Macintosh computer sales hit all-time highs

Read more: Apple reports record earnings and sales for a non-holiday quarter

And: Should you buy Alphabet stock now? A total of 98% of analysts consider it a ‘buy’

CVS Health
CVS,
+0.29%

and UnitedHealth Group
UNH,
-0.32%

 rounded out the top five — and CVS and its CEO Karen Lynch made Fortune 500 history as the highest-ranked company to be led by a female CEO. 

That was one of three records that women executives made on this year’s Fortune 500 list. This is also the first time that two Black women are running Fortune 500 businesses: Roz Brewer helms the Walgreens Boots Alliance
WBA,
+1.39%

(No. 16 on the list), and Thasunda Brown Duckett heads TIAA (aka the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America, at No. 79.) And the number of women running businesses on the Fortune 500 list hit an all-time high of 41 — which is a step in the right direction, but still a sign of just how wide the gender gap remains in the C-suite. After all, that amounts to women running just 8.1% of Fortune 500 companies.  

But while some businesses thrived, the past year took a financial toll on many companies. The revenue threshold to make this year’s Fortune 500 list was $5.4 billion, which is down 5% from last year. Some 108 companies lost a combined $224 billion last year — the ranking’s biggest loss since the Great Recession — as industries like travel and transportation, bars and restaurants, the arts and live events were hit especially hard by shutdowns and stay-at-home orders.

Here’s the list of the top 10 Fortune 500 companies for 2021.

Top 10 companies on the 2021 Fortune 500 list
  1. Walmart  
  2. Amazon 
  3. Apple 
  4. CVS Health
  5. UnitedHealth Group 
  6. Berkshire Hathaway  
  7. McKesson  
  8. AmerisourceBergen
  9. Alphabet 
  10. Exxon Mobil

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