Shell jumps ahead of Wal-Mart, ExxonMobil as world's largest company
Royal Dutch Shell is Europe's largest oil producer and aims to stay that way (and to stay on the top of Fortune's rankings) with its $18 billion investment in a plant in Qatar that will turn natural gas into cleaner-burning diesel fuel. This facility is expected to be up and running by 2010 and the company believes it will produce enough fuel to fill more than 160,000 cars per day. ExxonMobil remained in the second spot, thanks to $443 billion in revenue and $45 billion in earnings. Wal-Mart slipped despite a solid year as the "hottest stock in the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 2008."
The potential problem I see for Wal-Mart is if their sales actually do drop in 2009 -- they turned in a great year in 2008 and yet fell in the rankings. If sales fall as the economic crisis deepens, the company could be in for a bit of a struggle. Of course, a continued economic struggle could mean that the aisles will remain full of shoppers at Wal-Mart. It could go either way. As for the oil companies, it will be tough to recreate the stellar year turned in by distillers and purveyors of black gold.