One of the world’s largest engineering companies has made the top 10 of a listing of America’s top 500 companies.
With global revenues of $US146.2 billion and a market capitalisation as at March 31 of $259.5 billion, Connecticut-based industrial giant General Electric (GE) was the only engineering company to make the top 10 in the Fortune 500 2014 list
The company did, however, slip from eighth to ninth after a year which saw revenue contract by 0.4 per cent and profits drop 4.3 per cent amid weak manufacturing conditions in much of the developed world.
Having freed up capital to accelerate share buybacks and a restructuring plan by hiving off its remaining stake in its NBC Universal media entertainment joint venture with cable outfit Comcast for $US18.1 billion early last year, the company is now looking to invest in the year ahead.
In April, it announced an offer to buy the power and grid business of French outfit Alstom in April for almost $US17 billion, a move which has prompted speculation about a rival offer from Germany’s Siemens.
The company also says it is continuing its efforts at innovation.
In lighting, for example, the company is beginning to show off its next generation of LED fixtures in retail stores. The lights will come equipped with indoor location technology that communicates with customers’ smartphones and tablets (on an ‘opt in’ basis) and will allow retailers to provide messages relevant to each store visit.
In offshore oil and gas, meanwhile, the company’s European Research Centre in Munich is seeking to capitalise on the push for deeper exploration by looking at ways to create a seafloor unit that processes fluid from well streams on the seabed, eliminating the need to build and maintain expensive floating oil platforms.
As well as being the ninth biggest company in the US, GE is also the world’s largest industrial and engineering giant. Buildings and infrastructure are a significant area of focus for the company according to Fortune’s Global 500 list in 2013, in which GE ranked 24th.
Outside of engineering, resource and oil companies were also prevalent in the latest list, with Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Phillips 66 and Valero Energy all featuring in the top 10.
But with revenues of more than $476 billion, renowned US retailer Walmart maintained its top spot for the second year running.