Clinging to the 500

Clinging to the 500
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Clinging to the 500

Fortune 500 Rank: 20

Loss in Millions: 14,025.0

The troubled Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, aka Freddie Mac, is a government-sponsored enterprise chartered by Congress to stabilize the nation's residential mortgage markets. However, despite the injection of massive bailout loans and government care, its $14 billion loss in 2010 has put a sledge hammer through its hopes of recovery. In fact, in March 2011, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner called on Congress to pass legislation within two years that would dissolve both Freddie Mac and its larger sibling, Fannie Mae.

Fortune 500 rank: 5

Loss in Millions: 14,025.0

Back in June 2010, after its stock had traded below $1 a share for more than 30 days, mortgage giant Fannie Mae announced that it was being delisted from the NYSE, and little has given its shareholders reason to smile since then. For the first quarter of 2011, the company reported a loss of $8.7 billion, and has asked for another $8.5 billion in federal aid. The most recent losses came as a 1.8% decline in home prices around the country led more homeowners to default on loans that Fannie Mae had guaranteed.

Fortune 500 rank: 85

Loss in Millions: 3,465.0

Sprint Nextel, the third-largest U.S. wireless operator, has been struggling to hold onto its customers over the past few years, mainly due to complaints about poor service. The company has been aggressively working to improve its customer care and rebuild its image, and those efforts seem to be working: In the first quarter of 2011, Sprint Nextel reported net subscriber growth of 1.1 million customers -- its highest growth in five years -- bringing its total customer base to 51 million.

Fortune 500 rank: 292

Loss in Millions: 2,812.0

Energy Future is a privately held energy company consisting primarily of TXUEnergy, the largest nonregulated retail electricity provider in Texas, and Luminant, which is engaged largely in power generation, wholesale power marketing and energy trading. Luminant suffered massive problems, outages and shutdowns in 2010. But broader issues certainly impacted Energy Future's revenues in 2010 as well, among them concerns about U.S. dependency on foreign oil and consumers' generally more conservative energy use during the continued recession.

Fortune 500 rank: 9

Loss in Millions: 2,238.0

Bank of America is the largest bank holding company in the United States, a position it reached through a series of big acquisitions. But the 2008 purchases of Merrill Lynch and Countrywide Financial have left it struggling with a host of expensive problems. In 2010, Bank of America was accused of defrauding local government organizations, schools and hospitals through the illegal investment of municipal bond sales and proceedings. Douglas Campbell, a former bank official, pleaded guilty to antitrust, conspiracy and fraud charges, and more executives within the company still under indictment and investigation.

Fortune 500 rank: 474

Loss in Millions: 1,940.0

AbitibiBowater, the third largest pulp and paper company in North America, has been dealing with reputational damage from its destruction of intact forest land and wildlife habitats. Its failure to properly manage large areas of old-growth Canadian forest lost the company major contracts and led to its filing for bankruptcy in 2009. Today, AbitibiBowater has successfully emerged from creditor protection after a 2010 reorganization and rebuilding effort. The transition was supported by unionized workers and aided politically in Canada, which eased regulations regarding pensions and job protection. A five-year contract was approved that included a 10% wage cut with increases to resume in 2012, a deal that is allowing the company to continue to recover.

Fortune 500 rank: 380

Loss in Millions: 1,437.4

MGM Resorts International is the new name of MGM Mirage, a change made to reflect its worldwide expansion strategy. The gaming and hotel company owns some of the biggest names on the Las Vegas Strip, including MGM Grand, The Mirage, and the Monte Carlo, as well as the Luxor, the Bellagio, and Mandalay Bay. Its big loss reflects the overall weakness in Las Vegas's tourism industry. Revenue per available room from its Las Vegas properties decreased in 2010, and the company's bottom line suffered due to asset write-downs at its CityCenter property.

Fortune 500 rank: 257

Loss in Millions: 1,097.0

Williams is an integrated natural gas company that produces, gathers, processes and transports clean-burning natural gas to heat homes and power electric generation across the country. The company underwent a massive restructuring in 2010 that included a reorganization of its widespread pipeline holdings in Williams Partners LP.

Fortune 500 rank: 486

Loss in Millions: 1,096.7

PulteGroup is a home builder with operations in 60 markets and 28 states, and dwindling demand for new homes took a serious toll on the Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based company last year. In addition, Pulte Homes received a public reprimand in 2010 from the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation after it found that the company had used substandard construction practices.

Fortune 500 rank: 305

Loss in Millions: 1,065.0

Boston Scientific develops and manufactures medical devices used in treating wide array of conditions. Boston Scientific had to stop U.S. shipments of its implantable cardioverter defibrillators in March 2010 after it failed to submit paperwork to regulators on manufacturing changes, but resumed shipments in mid-April after regaining clearance. In addition a recall resulted for previously shipped devices and caused the company to take a bit hit on sales. Boston Scientific also recently acquired competitor Guidant for $27 billion.