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The latest markets news, real time quotes, financials and more. What is the ‘Fortune 500’ The Fortune 500 is an annual list of the 500 largest companies in the United States as compiled by Fortune magazine. BREAKING DOWN ‘Fortune 500’ More than 1,800 American companies have been featured on the Fortune 500 list over the course of its history. The list has changed dramatically from the first Fortune 500 published in 1955. Mergers and acquisitions, shifts in production output and bankruptcies have taken companies off of the list. The impact of a recession can also take out multiple companies from individual sectors. The First Fortune 500In 1955, the first Fortune 500 was published.
The idea for the list came from Edgar Smith, an assistant managing editor for Fortune. Smith’s idea took off and provided the grounds for the popular annual list. The original Fortune 500 lists contained only companies that were in the manufacturing, mining and energy sectors, limiting inclusion for many big-name companies. The Big Change in 1994In 1994, the Fortune 500 underwent its biggest change.
The new list continued to include companies from the original manufacturing, mining and energy sectors, and it also included service companies for the first time. This change in 1994 greatly impacted the Fortune 500 list going forward. In the first year service companies were included, they made up 291 of the 500 entries. Three of the newly included service companies even made the top 10 listings in the Fortune 500. Wal-Mart has spent several years at number one, a position it has not held if this change had not occurred. Shareholders should hold the stock until it recovers.