The 2012 Fortune 500 list came out today, and while Minnesota's tally was down one compared to last year, the list still highlights one of Minnesota's arguably under-appreciated strengths: growing big companies.
Fifteen years ago, Minnesota had 14 companies on the Fortune 500 list. There are 19 companies on the 2012 list. That's down from 20 last year because the defense contractor, ATK, a spin-off from Honeywell, moved its headquarters to the Washington D.C. area to be closer to customers.
ATK was just the latest Minnesota-bred firm to fall off the list due to a move or acquisition. The others that come to mind include: Travelers (the former St. Paul Cos., which moved its HQ to New York), Northwest Airlines (acquired by Delta Air Lines), Norwest Bank (acquired Wells Fargo & Co., and moved the HQ to San Francisco) and Honeywell (merged with Allied Signal; HQ moved to New Jersey).
Some Minnesota companies have bulked up with big acquisitions, such as General Mills' $10.4 acquisition of Pillsbury in 2001. The year before Milwaukee-based Firstar bought US Bancorp for more than $21 billion, but kept the name and headquarters of the Minneapolis-based bank.
Others have come to the list after being spun off by their parent companies, including Ameriprise Financial (which had been part of American Express), and fertilizer maker Mosaic, which Cargill spun off.
Speaking of Cargill, it's one of two privately held companies that are big enough to be added to the Fortune 500, which is based on revenue. Cargill's 2011 revenue reached $119.5 billion. That's well more than any other Minnesota based company and enough to rank Cargill #13 on the list, above Bank of America.
Carlson, the travel conglomerate, reports revenue of $38 billion, roughly in Google's neighborhood, which would rank Carlson in the low 70s.
(The list excludes private companies that do not file financial statements with a government agency.)
Here is a chart comparing Minnesota's Fortune 500 firms in this and last year's lists.
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