20 most profitable companies

Fortune 500 earnings soared this year, despite a feeble recovery, as companies cut costs fast and deeply. From Goldman Sachs to Google, here are the biggest winners.

1 of 20
1. Exxon Mobil
Fortune 500 rank: 2
2009 profit: $19.3 billion
The global recession cost Exxon bragging rights: It's no longer America's largest company ( that title now goes to Wal-Mart) and it isn't posting record profits. Indeed, earnings got cut in half as sales dropped by more than a third in 2009.

But Exxon remains unlike any company on our list. Consider that the oil giant spent a record $27 billion during the year on exploration projects, yet it still earned more than the gross domestic product of Macedonia.

NEXT: 2. Microsoft
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Last updated April 28 2010: 12:41 PM ET
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