Companies are ranked by total revenues for their respective fiscal years ended on or before March 31, 2011. All companies on the list must publish financial data and report part or all of their figures to a government agency. Figures are as reported, and comparisons are with the prior year's figures as originally reported for that year. Fortune does not restate the prior year's figures for changes in accounting.
Revenue figures include consolidated subsidiaries and reported revenues from discontinued operations but exclude excise taxes. For banks, revenue is the sum of gross interest income and gross noninterest income. For insurance companies, revenue includes premium and annuity income, investment income, realized capital gains or losses, and other income, but excludes deposits.
They are shown after taxes, after extraordinary credits or charges, cumulative effects of accounting changes, and noncontrolling (minority) interests, but before preferred dividends. Figures in parentheses indicate a loss. Profit declines of more than 100% reflect swings from 2009 profits to 2010 losses. Profits for partnerships and cooperatives are reported but are not comparable with those of the other companies on the list because they are not taxed on a comparable basis. Profits for mutual insurance companies are based on statutory accounting. Revenue and profit figures for non-U.S. companies have been converted to U.S. dollars at the average exchange rate during each company's fiscal year (ended Dec. 31, 2010, unless otherwise noted).
Assets shown are those at the company's fiscal year-end. Stockholders' equity is the sum of capital stock, paid-in capital, and retained earnings on the same date. Noncontrolling (minority) interests are not included. Figures for non-U.S. companies have been converted to U.S. dollars at the exchange rate at each company's fiscal year-end.
The figure shown is either a fiscal year-end or yearly average number, as published by the company.
No attempt has been made to calculate medians in groups with fewer than four companies. The medians for profit changes from 2009 do not include companies that lost money in 2009 or lost money in both 2009 and 2010, because no meaningful percentage changes can be calculated in such cases.
This year's Fortune Global 500 was prepared under the direction of senior list editor L. Michael Cacace.
Financial statements and annual reports were reviewed by reporter Douglas Elam, accounting specialists Richard Tucksmith and Rhona Altschuler, and markets editor Kathleen Smyth. Reporter Cindy Kano (Tokyo) reviewed and verified figures for Japanese companies. Bureau manager Zhang Dan (Beijing) provided figures for Chinese companies. Staff in Britain, France, Germany, India, and South Korea gathered data in those countries. Fortune's Business Information Database administrator, Larry Shine, supplied technical support. Research director Marilyn Adamo and research assistant Kathleen Lyons assisted in data verification using data provided by Thomson Reuters; Capital IQ; Hoover's; and Morningstar Document Research.