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Ford Bumps Exxon For No. 2 Spot, GM Remains on Top; Record Profits in ’88

April 4, 1989

NEW YORK (AP) _ Automaking titan Ford Motor Co. moved into second place among Fortune 500 industrial companies last year, bumping oil giant Exxon Corp. to third place, while General Motors Corp. remained Number One, the magazine reported today.

The annual listing, which also showed 1988 as the best year ever for corporate America’s sales and profits, also had General Electric Co. moving into the No. 5 spot, pushing Mobil Corp. to No. 6, and Chrysler Corp. jumping to No. 7 from No. 10, the magazine said.

Among the other top 10, International Business Machines Corp. remained unchanged in the No. 4 spot; Texaco Inc. dropped to the No. 8 spot from seventh last year; and E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. remained unchanged at No. 9.

Philip Morris Cos. moved to the 10th spot from 12th place, helped by its acquisition of Kraft Co., which ranked No. 31 last year.

″By virtually every measure, 1988 was the best year ever for the Fortune 500,″ the magazine said in an advance release of the list, published in April 24 editions available on newsstands Wednesday.

″As the U.S. economy expanded for the sixth straight year, demand continued to surge and factories and refineries operated near capacity,″ Fortune said.

The new list shows sales by the Fortune 500 topped $2 trillion for the first time and profits jumped a record 27 percent.

It said nearly all of the 27 industrial categories enjoyed double-digit earnings growth in 1988, led by metal companies, which showed a 100 percent jump, boosted by soaring copper prices and the steel industry’s successful restructuring.

Large oil refiners posted a 63 percent increase in profits, benefiting from what Fortune called ″a double-dose of luck; OPEC squabbling drove crude oil prices down, lowering costs, while demand strengthened, increasing prices.″

Besides helping Philip Morris, takeovers also moved other companies up the list. Eastman Kodak Co. jumped from No. 25 to No. 18 with the acquisition of Sterling Drug Co., ranked No. 174 last year.

Fortune ranks the top 500 industrial companies in terms of annual sales. It also publishes a list later in the year ranking the top 500 U.S. service companies.

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