Wal-Mart is the biggest U.S. company, for the fourth year in a row, according to Fortune magazine's annual list for 2005. Exxon Mobil and General...

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Wal-Mart is the biggest U.S. company, for the fourth year in a row, according to Fortune magazine’s annual list for 2005.

Exxon Mobil and General Motors also retained their positions as No. 2 and No. 3 on the Fortune 500 list.

Wal-Mart, Exxon and GM are the only three companies to have topped the Fortune 500 list since it began in 1954, Fortune said yesterday.

In 2004, the Fortune 500 index gave shareholders a 10 percent total return, as measured by change in stock price plus dividend.

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Metal producers such as Alcoa posted the biggest profit increases of all Fortune 500 industry groups as Chinese demand for raw materials soared, Fortune said.

China’s “appetite for raw materials — it now consumes about a quarter of the world’s copper, iron, ore and steel — sent commodity prices sky-high,” Fortune writer Janice Revell said in the statement. “And those price increases went straight to the bottom line.”

Fortune 100

By rank, name of company, headquarters, last year’s rank and 2004 revenue in billions of dollars.

29. Costco Wholesale Issaquah, 29, $48.107

41. Microsoft Redmond, 46, $36.835

89. Weyerhaeuser Federal Way, 95, $22.665

Source: Fortune magazine

Electronics and electrical equipment, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications and airlines were the only industries of the 42 groups tracked by the magazine that didn’t have profit increases in 2004, Fortune said.

The top eight companies stayed the same as 2004. American International Group (AIG) and IBM switched places for ninth and 10th place, respectively.

The magazine ranked the members of the Standard & Poor’s 500 index by 2004 revenue.

Rounding out the top 10 companies were 4. Ford; 5. General Electric; 6. ChevronTexaco; 7. ConocoPhillips 8; Citigroup; 9. AIG; 10. IBM.