Each January, 24/7 Wall St. forecasts the publicly traded U.S. companies that will have the highest profits in the year ahead. This year, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) is likely to pass Exxon Mobil (NYSE: XOM) as the most profitable corporation in the Fortune 500. It already passed the oil giant in market capitalization for a while last year. The market appears to anticipate rapid growth from Apple comparable to that of the past two years. The stock has reached several all-time highs recently and now trades at $425, up nearly 25% in the past year.
Most of the largest companies in the U.S. will not have large earnings swings from last year, with the notable exception of financial firms. The majority of banks and investment houses will suffer earnings declines because of poor trading results and bad loans, notwithstanding the fact that JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM), arguably the best-run bank in America, is on this list, as is Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) . Corporations like IBM (NYSE: IBM) and Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG) have such huge customer bases worldwide that they can hardly outperform the global economy. What differentiates them is their ability to manage their operations better than peers as they keep expenses low and take all the advantages they can of their significant market shares.
24/7 Wall St. looked at the top 200 companies in the Fortune 500 based on the revenue in the past reported year. We then reviewed earnings and earnings forecast from Thomson/First Call. There were some cases in which earnings appeared to be too low or too high because of events in the past month. We took those into account when we produced the final numbers.
This is 24/7 Wall St.’s 10 Most Profitable Companies for 2012.