Fortune 500

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DEFINITION of 'Fortune 500'

An annual list of the 500 largest companies in the United States as compiled by FORTUNE magazine. The list is put together using the most recent figures for revenue and includes both public and private companies with publicly available revenue data. Exxon Mobil, Walmart, General Electric and Chevron have vied for the top spots on the list in recent years. To be a Fortune 500 company is widely considered to be a mark of prestige.

BREAKING DOWN 'Fortune 500'

The collective performance of the Fortune 500 companies may be seen as one indicator of the country's overall economic performance. For example, in the midst of the 2008 recession, the Fortune 500 companies' collective 335% increase in earnings in 2009 was viewed as a possible sign of economic recovery. Companies' addition to and subtraction from the list also say something about the overall economy; for example, homebuilders dropped off the list after the housing market bubble burst.



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