Every year Fortune publishes a list of the biggest companies in the world named “Fortune 500”. With the ongoing situation of the pandemic, it was assumed that companies will see a heavy downturn due to the massive economic halt. But unsurprisingly, some companies still managed to generate revenue in an unprecedented manner like never before. So, 2020 was also more or like the same for the biggest conglomerates in the world.
Let’s take a look at the top fiver conquerors of that list –
1. Walmart (USA)
Just when Walmart got habituated coming second to Amazon for the last couple of years, Covid-19 introduced a doorway of opportunity for them.
Walmart’s 4,600 US stores with latest technology and efficient workforce, have proved to be an effective weapon in its largest market by allowing curbside pickup for online orders at a time when shoppers want to limit time in stores—but who still want their orders quickly. According to the company report, that situation is like to stay for a while as in the first quarter of fiscal year 2021, the company reported “unprecedented demand” for goods that drove up US comp sales by 10% and US e-commerce sales by 74%. The company’s Sam’s Club division is finding renewed energy, too. Walmart is benefiting from focusing on select overseas markets, such as India and China, rather than competing everywhere.
2. Sinopec Group (China)
China Petroleum & Chemical also known as Sinopec is a producer and distributor of a variety of petrochemical and petroleum products. The company’s products include gasoline, diesel, kerosene, synthetic rubbers and resins, jet fuel, and chemical fertilizers, among other related offerings. Sinopec is one of the largest oil refining, gas, and petrochemical companies in the world. It is administered by the State Council of the People’s Republic of China.This year, their profit fell 16.2% to $6.8 billion betting big on expanding production capacity last year just as oil prices grew volatile, and 2020 has been even bumpier. China’s lockdown measures to counter the coronavirus pandemic clobbered energy demand as industrial activity paused. The result was a record quarterly loss in the first quarter for Sinopec, and cuts to capital spending. However, there were signs of a swift recovery: by April, the company said daily sales had returned to 90% of their pre-lockdown levels.
3. State Grid (China)
It wasn’t an electric year for State Grid, China’s state-owned power company, as sales dipped just under 1% in 2019. Beijing appointed Mao Weiming as State Grid’s chairman at the start of 2020, marking the first time the massive utility has been led by a chairman with no prior experience in the industry. Mao’s predecessor reportedly had objected to a government plan last year that guaranteed the power company would purchase clean energy from operators of renewable power plants. The program is tied to China’s effort to green its electricity supply, but it could put a squeeze on State Grid’s profit margins. Mao is thought to be more amenable to the plan. Meanwhile, as China battles its way out of the economic slump caused by the pandemic, coal-fired power generation remains king for State Grid—at least for now.
4. China national petroleum (China)
PetroChina is the exchange-listed branch of the Chinese state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation.The past year brought plenty of adversity for China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), the state-owned parent company of the country’s second-largest oil producer, PetroChina. Slumping oil prices and energy demand have put pressure on the industry’s revenue and profit margins, and PetroChina is no exception. Even before the pandemic began, PetroChina announced a 58% drop in profits in the third quarter of last year, caused by overcapacity in China’s market for natural gas. PetroChina’s gas import business suffered a $4.3 billion net loss in 2019. Despite the headwinds, the oil and gas refiner maintains its spot at No. 4 on the Global 500 list—the same ranking it has held for four years now.
5. Royal Dutch Shell (Netherlands)
Royal Dutch Shell, the Anglo-Dutch oil and gas multinational, fell two spots in the Global 500 rankings this year as revenue took an 11% hit and profits fell by more than a third to $15.8 billion. Weaker oil and gas prices were to blame. And so far 2020 has been even more eventful: global lockdown measures dropped energy demand to historic lows, triggering spending cuts and a write-down of assets that could reach $22 billion. Looking forward, Shell in April said it would target net-zero emissions by 2050—the largest energy company in the world to do so.
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