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The World's Biggest Companies

Edited by Scott DeCarlo and Brian Zajac 04.02.08, 6:00 PM ET

One world; one gigantic marketplace. This year, 60 countries have global 2000 entries
vs. 51 in our inaugural list in 2004. The Forbes global 2000 are public companies with
the top composite scores based on their rankings for sales, profits, assets and market
value. Our justification for using a composite ranking is simple: One metric alone can
give a false impression about corporate size.

In total, the global 2000 companies now account for $30 trillion in revenues, $2.4 trillion
in profits, $119 trillion in assets and $39 trillion in market value. Around the world, 72
million people work for these companies. The U.S. still dominates this list of global
giants, but with 61 fewer entries than last year and 153 fewer than in 2004, as many U.S.
companies failed to keep pace with global competitors. In contrast, China, India and
Brazil are rapidly adding companies to the list. India, for example, has 48 companies this
year vs. 27 in 2004.

Measured by number of companies, 315, the banking industry has the biggest presence
on the global 2000. Banking also dominates in assets, with total assets of $58.3 trillion,
and profits, $398 billion. The 123 companies in oil and gas operations lead all industries
in aggregate revenues, of $3.76 trillion, and take second place in total profits, of $386
billion.

For the past few years, we have also identified an important subset of the global 2000:
big companies that also have exceptional growth rates. To qualify as a global high
performer, a company must stand out from its industry peers in growth, return to
investors and future prospects. Most of the 130 global high performers have been
expanding their earnings at 25% a year or better--easy for a start-up, hard for a blue chip.

One such exceptional company is HSBC Holdings (nyse: HBC - news - people ), which
not only leads this year's global 2000 in size--by moving past Citigroup (nyse: C - news -
people ), which we now rank 24--but also is one of five global high performers in the
banking industry. HSBC has delivered 26% annual average growth in revenue and 31%
in net income over the past five years--results that seem more suited to a growing
regional bank than one operating in 83 countries with 10,000 offices and $2.3 trillion in
assets.

Our tables on global high performers include international brand names such as
McDonald's (nyse: MCD - news - people ), Nestlé (other-otc: NSRGF - news - people ),
Toyota Motor (nyse: TM - news - people ) and Walt Disney (nyse: DIS - news - people
), as well as rising stars such as Turkcell (nyse: TKC - news - people ), Turkey's biggest
wireless telecom company, and Infosys Technologies (nasdaq: INFY - news - people ), a
technology service firm headquartered in India.
To find these global superstars, we analyzed 26 industries of the global 2000 (we
excluded trading companies) and gave each company scores for a low debt-to-capital
ratio, long- and short-term sales growth, profit growth, return on capital and total return
over five years. The composite performance score also wires in earnings growth forecasts
tabulated by Thomson IBES. We deleted a few candidates with good numbers but big
problems.

Other requirements for the global high performers list: shares traded in the U.S. or
american depositary receipts, a share price of at least $5, positive equity and sales of at
least $1 billion.