Saudi Aramco is the state-run petroleum company of Saudi Arabia. It developed out of John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil, which began exploring the Arabian peninsula’s deserts in the search for oil during the early 1900s. Today it may be the highest-earning company in the world, but it’s a bit of an enigma. One reason is that before 2019 it never appeared in the Fortune 500 list of companies, even though its revenue for 2019 was $329,800,000,000. Before 2019, it never released its financial statements.
Aramco had been listed on the Arab stock exchange Tadawul, and by the time it released its financial statements in 2019, it claimed a net income of over $100 billion – over double that of Apple. It may be the most valuable company in the world, with a market value of nearly two trillion dollars. Aramco funds the Saudi state, meaning that it relies almost exclusively on oil to fuel its economy. Expect to see turmoil in the region, particularly in Saudi Arabia and with its Aramco company, if demand for oil drops due to environmental concerns and the crises of 2020.
State Grid is another state-run energy company in communist China. In 2019, it grossed $387,000,000,000. The company formed about the same time as Sinopec, when the communist government reformed its energy sector in the 1980s. Unsurprisingly, it has a monopoly on the Chinese power grid, and it runs regional power grids throughout the country.
It may be surprising that State Grid also runs power grids in other countries, including Brazil and the Philippines. Some of their grids are run under different names; even in China, five different companies fall under State Grid. State Grid could easily continue to see its revenue increase and its international market growth, especially if it switches to renewable energy sources, such as solar, hydro, and wind, to power its grids.
Sinopec, or China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation, is a company you may have never heard of but that’s out-earning almost every other company in the world. In 2019, the state-owned oil and gas exploration and refining giant grossed $369,200,000,000. However, appearances can be deceiving, given that its former president received the death penalty in 2009 for bribery.
The future of Sinopec Group, along with other petroleum companies, is certainly in question, given concerns over the environmental crisis and climate change. Many are choosing to divest from oil and gas and invest their money elsewhere. Nevertheless, China has a history of surprising the world with its industrial durability and ability to master the state-run communist economy.
However you may feel about different controversies surrounding Wal-Mart, it was the most profitable company in the world at the beginning of 2020, grossing $524,000,000,000 the previous year. It placed well above Amazon, which many now consider its most significant competitor. Unlike Amazon, which specializes in quickly delivering low-cost items to people’s homes, Wal-Mart has not adjusted rapidly to a delivery platform.
There are concerns about the future of Wal-Mart, despite its status as the most popular of any low-price chain store. One is that given its immense size and reliance on bureaucratic processes getting filtered down to local stores, it cannot adapt quickly to changes. Adaptability will probably be a key asset moving forward, so Wal-Mart may collapse under its weight. Another concern is that it does not pay store employees a living wage and has not adapted environmentally friendly practices.
Sources: “TOP 10 Most Profitable Companies in the World in 2020.” FXSSI. May 26, 2020. “Most Profitable Businesses in 2020.” Fortune 500.