(Yicai Global) July 22 -- With 129 Chinese businesses appearing on the latest Global 500 list released by US business magazine Fortune, China has surpassed the United States for the first time. The US had 121 in the annual ranking.
US retailer Walmart kept its position as the world's largest company for a sixth straight year, with overall revenue of USD514.4 billion in 2018. State-owned energy giant China Petroleum and Chemical ranked second with USD414.6 billion. Royal Dutch Shell, China National Petroleum and China State Grid took the third, fourth and fifth positions, respectively.
Chinese property developer Country Garden advanced the most of any company in the Global 500, climbing 176 places to 177. Among the 25 newcomers, 13 were from China, including well-known smartphone maker Xiaomi Technology and air-conditioner manufacturer Gree Electric Appliances.
Saudi Aramco, the Saudi Arabian national petroleum and gas company, topped the list for net profit globally with USD111 billion, while US tech giant Apple came second. Chinese firms earned four spots among the top 10 list for net profit, all of them state-owned commercial banks: Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, China Construction Bank, Agricultural Bank of China and Bank of China.
Profitability at China's leading companies remains weak, Fortune noted, adding that their average profit reached USD3.5 billion, lower than the general average of USD4.3 billion for Global 500 firms, and nearly half of these gains came from banks. Average earnings at Chinese firms was only USD1.9 billion, if 11 banks are excluded, just a third of the average for US non-bank companies.
In addition, the average return on sales and profit margin on net assets of China's listed companies are both below the global average, although they have reversed the downward trend of recent years and are roughly on a par with companies from Japan, the UK, France and Germany in terms of sales size and asset size, Fortune added.