Old Meets New on the Top 500 Global Companies List

Visual Capitalist  |

The Fortune Global 500 List is an annual ranking of the largest 500 companies by revenue worldwide. The publisher of the rankings, Fortune magazine, has recently put together an excellent interactive chart that shows how the list has changed over the last 20 years.

Here’s the companies on the 2016 edition mapped based on the location of their headquarters. The size of each circle is equivalent to the most recent revenue number:

As you can see, companies are mostly concentrated in the United States, China, Japan, and the EU. Here’s the exact breakdown:

  • United States: 134
  • China: 103
  • Japan: 52
  • France: 29
  • Germany: 28
  • United Kingdom: 28
  • South Korea: 26
  • Switzerland: 15
  • Netherlands: 12
  • Canada: 11
  • Other: 75

The biggest company by revenue? It’s Walmart, and it has a circle that takes up the whole continental United States on the map. That circle represents its annual revenues of $482 billion.

But the real question isn’t which company is the biggest – what’s much more interesting is to look at the rankings data to see what interesting stories can be told.

Mover and Shakers on the Fortune Global 500 List

How have companies on the list today performed over the last 20 years?

Companies such as Walmart (WMT) or Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A) have been remarkably consistent blue chips:

Other companies are not so consistent. They have ups and downs, and here the rankings data helps to tell their tales.

For example, you can see the “Dark Ages” of Apple (AAPL) in the following graph after they fired Steve Jobs. The company spent 12 years without him, and you can see that by 1997 they were almost off the Fortune Global 500 list.

Apple acquired NeXT in 1997 and Jobs would regain the title of CEO. Ten years later, the iPhone was released and the company soared back into the Top 10.

But Apple isn’t the only company that is a mover or shaker.

Amazon.com (AMZN), of course, is also growing at a breakneck pace:

There are many newer entries on the list from China, and it seems that almost every one has a trajectory similar to this:

What does the state-sponsored Aviation Industry Corp. of China do, exactly?

The company’s 542,236 employees build planes – lots of planes. Particularly, they seem to build fighter jets, bombers, drones, and even entire airports.

Here’s another skyrocketing Chinese company. This time it is the China Merchants Bank:

Meanwhile, the effects of the recent commodity downturn can be seen in the trajectories of companies such as Rio Tinto (RIO):

And the chart for the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) shows how it was affected by the 2009 Financial Crisis:

(Photo by Adam Jones Adam63)

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to: http://www.equities.com/disclaimer.


Symbol Name Price Change % Volume
RIO Rio Tinto Plc 57.76 -1.15 -1.95 1,813,457 Trade
RDS.A Royal Dutch Shell PLC American Depositary Shares (Each representing two Class A) 57.17 -0.23 -0.40 3,083,840 Trade
RBS Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc New (The) ADS 5.81 0.02 0.35 1,700,276 Trade
WMT Walmart Inc. 114.37 -1.44 -1.24 4,394,759 Trade
AAPL Apple Inc. 318.31 -0.92 -0.29 37,396,466 Trade
AMZN Amazon.com Inc. 1,861.64 -22.94 -1.22 3,822,361 Trade



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