If 2020 was a year Corporate America would like to forget because of the pandemic-induced economic downturn, 2021 is a year business will gladly remember. According to a Bloomberg News story from March 30, 2022, 2021 was the most profitable year for American corporations since 1950. Based on data published by the Commerce Department, profits spiked 35% in 2021, boosted by robust household demand buoyed by government cash transfers.
To identify the Global Fortune 500 companies with skyrocketing profits, 24/7 Wall St. used 2020 and 2021 profit data from Fortune 500. We considered the top 113 international companies in terms of total revenue in 2021 that posted a profit in 2020. Of those, 39 companies reported growing profits.
Of the 39 companies reporting profits on this list, more than one-third were in the health care and FIRE (finance, insurance, and real estate) sectors. Among the health care companies reporting profit in 2021 were HCA Healthcare, UnitedHealth Group, and Cigna. In the FIRE category, Wall Street banks Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley were well in the black, as were insurers Allstate, Progressive, and Travelers.
Google and Facebook may have new parent names — Alphabet and Meta Platforms — but they continue to churn out profits. (Find out if Alphabet and Meta are also among the best big companies to work for in 2022.)
Home-improvement companies Lowe’s and Home Depot had a strong year, as homeowners forced to stay home because of COVID-19 found the time to embark on new projects. Similarly, with people still cooking from home more, supermarket companies Kroger, Publix Super Markets, and Albertsons all posted yearly gains. (This company has the most profits per employee.)
Hopes for 2022 being at least as profitable for companies as the previous year are facing serious headwinds, including inflation and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Supply-chain bottlenecks remain, and the rate of inflation, at 8.5% for the 12 months ended March 2022, is the highest since December 1981. This has prompted the Federal Reserve to raise its benchmark interest rate in March for the first time since dropping it to nearly zero two years ago. There may be more increases this year.
During his earnings discussion with Yahoo! Finance on April 20, Procter & Gamble CEO Jon Moeller said commodity costs will cause the consumer company to raise prices. P&G is third on the list with a profit gain of more than 234% in 2021.
The Russia-Ukraine war has sparked a jump in the prices of commodities such as energy, food, and metals that will impact corporate profitability.
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