2013’s Most Profitable Companies

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10. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT)
> Forecast 2013 revenue: $467 billion, up 5%
> Forecast 2013 earnings: $16 billion, up 10%
> Stock price: $68.36
> 52-week range: $57.18 – $77.60
> Market cap: $228.68 billion

Walmart employs more than 2 million people, making it the largest company in America by headcount. In the most recent Fortune 500 ranking, Walmart fell just behind Exxon Mobil in total revenue. Walmart is made up primarily of three divisions: Walmart’s domestic stores, its Sam’s Club warehouse operation and Walmart International. Walmart has had a year marked by scandal. Allegedly, executives at the company’s Mexico division bribed government officials. Democratic Congressmen Elijah E. Cummings and Henry A. Waxman recently released information indicating Walmart CEO Mike Duke was aware as early as 2005 of allegations company executives had bribed Mexican government officials.

9. Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE)
> Forecast 2013 revenue: $58 billion, down 1%
> Forecast 2013 earnings: $17 billion, up 6%
> Stock price: $26.76
> 52-week range: $20.75 – $26.77
> Market cap: $197.02 billion

Pfizer’s largest challenge, like that of most other large pharmaceutical companies, is the expiration of patents for much of its drug portfolio. Cheaper, generic versions of these drugs have taken market share. In a recent example, Pfizer had to drop the price of Viagra in Canada to compete with generic versions sold there. Pfizer has gone through a series of layoffs to protect its margins, most recently at its U.S. sales operations. In the latest reported quarter, revenue fell to $14 billion from $16.6 billion in the same period a year ago.

Also Read: The 10 Most Hated Companies in America

8. General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE)
> Forecast 2013 revenue: $148 billion, up 2%
> Forecast 2013 earnings: $18 billion, up 11%
> Stock price: $21.17
> 52-week range: $18.02 – $23.18
> Market cap: $222.00 billion

GE is considered the world’s largest conglomerate. It provides global infrastructure products and services, health care systems, jet engines and transportation services, and household appliances. It also has a large financial services division. One of the major criticisms of GE management is that the company has grown very little over the past several years. Wall St. has reacted negatively, and the stock price has fallen by over a third over the past five years. GE CEO Jeff Immelt is highly visible in business and government circles, and currently heads the U.S. Jobs Council set up by President Obama.

6. (tie) International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM)
> Forecast 2013 revenue: $107 billion, up 2%
> Forecast 2013 earnings: $19 billion, up 10%
> Stock price: $192.88
> 52-week range: $177.35 – $211.79
> Market cap: $217.94 billion

IBM is one of America’s largest tech companies. It is also one of the most diverse. Its strength in sales to corporations and government has allowed it to largely avoid many of the troubles that have faced firms like Dell Corp. (NASDAQ: DELL) and Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ), which are more dependent on sales to consumers. IBM has significant operations in Europe and Asia. It sells hardware — including mainframe computers — software and IT services. It also has consulting operations and a finance division. IBM is one of America’s oldest tech companies, and in 2011 celebrated its 100th anniversary of its founding. The company last year appointed its first female CEO — Ginni Rometty.

6. (tie) Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE: WFC)
> Forecast 2013 revenue: $85 billion, down 1%
> Forecast 2013 earnings: $19 billion, up 9%
> Stock price: $35.40
> Range: $28.77 – $36.60
> Market cap: $186.36 billion

Wells Fargo is one of America’s “big four” commercial banks, alongside Chase, Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C) and Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC). The company recently reported better-than-expected earnings. The quality of those numbers confirmed what many analysts believe: Wells Fargo has been able to build “a reputation as one of the strongest banks in the country,” as ABC News reported. An indication of Wall St.’s admiration for the bank is that its share price has well outperformed its peers over the past five years. Like the other large American banks, Well Fargo is highly diversified. It has retail bank operations, commercial operations that handle business lending, an investment bank and a wealth management business.