Corporations are like sharks: They need to keep moving or they will drown. But as they get large, rapid growth becomes much more of a challenge.Still, some companies in the right industries, and with the right products manage to pull it off.
We’ve put together a list of gigantic companies that are doing it.
This list is based on the average growth rate in the revenues of the world’s 50 largest public companies over the past five years (excluding a few Chinese companies for which we had trouble getting data).
(This list has been revised as of April 7 to reflect an error in the original.)
Revenues in 2006: $72.8 billion
Revenues in 2010: $121 billion
Average yearly growth rate: 13.6%
Depite already having the luxury of being the most highly valued company in its own hemisphere, the Brazilian oil giant has had some amazing corporate victories over the past five years.
In the course of setting records in depth of offshore drilling exploration, Petrobras hit paydirt in the summer of 2007 when it discovered a massive oil well in the Santos Basin off the coast of Brazil. The 'Tupi' oil well contained up to an estimated 8 billion of barrels in its reserve, making it the largest discovery in almost a decade an boosting Brazil's oil production by 60% alone. And as if they weren't too full of good news, the company discovered a well almost equal in size to 'Tupi' less than three months later off the coast of Rio.
The discoveries have made Petrobras a revenues machine, with annual average gains of almost 14%.
Revenues in 2006: $61.3 billion
Revenues in 2010: $102 billion
Average yearly growth rate: 13.8%
As Wall Street panicked and crumbled around it, JPMorgan Chase managed to find a way to weather the storm that engulfed and drowned so many of their competitors.
CEO Jamie Dimon became a hero-esque figure (on an admittedly hero-free stage) during the bailout debate and moved quickly to salvage what was left of Washington Mutual from receivership in 2008, expanding Chase's retail banking operations into California with the acquisition of WaMu's branch locations.
Revenues in 2006: $14.4 billion
Revenues in 2010: $26.8 billion
Average yearly growth rate: 16.8%
While the company's spot on this list is no doubt a surprise to some, Larry Ellison's re-launched, re-publicly offered version of Oracle has been on a tear since 2006, generating revenues upwards of $12.5 billion and seeing its market value soar in tandem.
And Ellison hasn't been making those gains idly, since 2007, Oracle has been on an acquisitions spree, buying Hyperion Solutions, BEA and Sun Microsystems.
Revenues in 2006: $37 billion
Revenues in 2010: $71.7 billion
Average yearly growth rate: 17.9%
As a privatized, former Chinese government utility with a veritable monopoly in its business sector, China Mobile's revenues are a direct result of being the primary service provider to a nation currently riding a crest of financial growth and modernization that places a mobile phone phone in the hands of billions of people.
The company's 2008 acquisition of a major Chinese ISP provider moved China Mobile into the Internet services industry where they are looking to dominate the market. Something to which they've grown accustomed.
Revenues in 2006: $63 billion
Revenues in 2010: $124 billion
Average yearly growth rate: 18.5%
While AT&T's revenue figures since 2006 are impressive on their own merit, a bit of thanks should be offered to another member of our list, Apple.
Through a shrewdly negotiated deal, the January, 2007 unveiling of the iPhone granted AT&T exclusive mobile service rights to a technology phenomenon, which saw sales surge upwards of one million units in only three months.
The exclusive contract with Apple has lapsed but AT&T clams to have planning a ahead for a a while and will enter more strongly into the 'Android'-phone market over the course of this year.
Revenues in 2006: $22.6 billion
Revenues in 2010: $45.9 billion
Average yearly growth rate: 19.4%
The financial crisis caused agitation, depression, stress and heartburn, for Merck, that is a recipe for success.
The drug maker saw no real negative effect from the economic meltdown, instead making the decision to evolve dramatically by merging with competitor Schering-Plough in 2009, expanding both companies' product portfolios and revenue bases.
Revenues in 2006: $20.8 billion
Revenues in 2010: $45.3 billion
Average yearly growth rate: 21.4%
In October 2006, the Rio de Janeiro-based mining company was already one of the world's top five largest mining concerns. Nevertheless, Vale closed a deal that very month to acquire fellow mining giant Inco's enormous mining operations.
The $18.9 billion acquisition of the Canadian Inco made Vale the second biggest mining operation on the globe and its largest miner of iron ore.
Revenues in 2006: $18.7 billion
Revenues in 2010: $41.2 billion
Average yearly growth rate: 21.8%
The largest bank in China (a title that reeks of earnings potential), Bank of China leveraged 2006's more notorious events and issued a record-breaking IPO on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, generating an enormous amount of interest from Western investors who found themselves increasingly desperate for a 'sure thing.'
2006 was a big year for Chinese banks, ICBC (Industrial & Commercial Bank of China) conducted its own $500 billion IPO that October.
And in 2010, Bank of China announced that it would offer RMB (Renminbi currency) investment products to very interested U.S. investors, a move that is sure to generate quite a bit of future revenues for a growing banking power.
Revenues in 2006: $35.7 billion
Revenues in 2010: $85.2 billion
Average yearly growth rate: 24.3%
Wells Fargo survived a Civil War, Two World Wars and a Great Depression, so perhaps it's no surprise that they thrived during the 2006 mortgage crisis, even managing to scoop up Wachovia and extend its retail presence to the Eastern half of the U.S.
The 2008 acquisition of Wachovia gave Wells Fargo a huge boost to its commercial banking business and the bank now services over 70 million customers at 6,335 branches nationwide.
Revenues in 2006: $11.1 billion
Revenues in 2010: $27 billion
Average yearly growth rate: 24.7%
Thanks to a land-rights structure inherent in its charter, the China National Offshore Oil Corporation is another former Chinese government agency and another functional monopoly, this time in offshore drilling operations in Chinese waters.
The arrangement has been a lucrative one for CNOOC, allowing it to acquire a large stake in the American energy company Chesapeake Energy last year, and more than doubling it's yearly revenue in only five years. A rate that would seem unsustainable... for a company with real competition.
Revenues in 2006: $86.4 billion
Revenues in 2010: $216 billion
Average yearly growth rate: 25.8%
The 2006 financial meltdown was apparently not much of a concern to China's biggest oil producer as it became the first company ever to reach a Market capitalisation figure of $1 trillion in 2007, less than a year after its initial IPO.
But that huge surge has been tamed by geo-political issues surrounding oil and controversial decisions like PetroChina's plan to build a pipeline through Tibet. But while no longer a trillion-dollar operation, PetroChina did have the second highest market value in the world (roughly $303 billion) at the end of 2010.
Revenues in 2006: $22.5 billion
Revenues in 2010: $56.5 billion
Avg. yearly growth rate: 25.9%
Rio Tinto's global operations are centered mostly in Australia and Canada (nearly 70% in fact) and the surge in commodities has been a boon to its business, creating a $300 million rise in revenues since 2006 and allowing it to stave off a hostile takeover bid by BHP Billiton in 2007.
Revenues in 2006: $10.6 billion
Revenues in 2010: $29.3 billion
Average yearly growth rate: 28.9%
As it moves into what it hopes will be an 'Android'-heavy future, Google has managed to increase their annual average market value by a rate 7% greater than that of the Top 50 Market Cap companies from around the globe.
In addition, Larry, Sergey and Co. have continued to develop their own growing list of sites while acquiring of other hugely popular ones like YouTube, DoubleClick and Aardvark. Site revenue alone accounted for approximately $5.7 billion in 2010's final fiscal quarter, a 28% quarter-to-quarter increase from 2009.
Revenues in 2006: $20.5 billion
Revenues in 2010: $68.4 billion
Avg. yearly growth rate: 35.21%
ICBC's high ranking on this list seems to be a function of both its relative youth as a publicly traded entity and its role as yet another growing corporate giant that was once part of the Chinese government.
After a record-shattering IPO in 2006, ICBC has gone on to raise it's yearly revenues by $4 billion in just five years, and built an equity base that rivals all of America's 'Big Four' banks.
Revenues in 2006: $19.3 billion
Revenues in 2010: $65.2 billion
Average yearly growth rate: 35.5%
It turns out that revolutionizing the way human beings interact with digital media can be quite a profitable idea.
Since announcing the creation of the first iPhone in January 2007, Steve Jobs and co. have released three more iPhone iterations, myriad versions of the iPod, consolidated the cost-to-benefit structure of its iTunes store and most recently, the fervently-anticipated iPad 2.
Perhaps the only company on the globe that attracts stalkers en masse who pull patent applications, monitor the health issues of a certain company executive and ponder 'the next, new thing' with constant attention, Apple has grown its Market Cap by over 40% a year on average since the end of 2006, almost double its closest competitor.