Fortune shines on Virginia

Commonwealth picks up four names on annual list of largest U.S. companies

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Print this page by Tim Loughran

Virginia is home to two dozen of the nation’s 500 largest companies, according to Fortune magazine.

With that total, the Old Dominion ranks sixth among the 50 states, behind California (53), Texas (52), New York (50), Illinois (32) and Ohio (28).  Interestingly, those states also are among the seven most populous in the country.  Virginia, by comparison, ranks 12th in population.

The 2012 Fortune 500 features four more Virginia companies than last year.

The new Virginia listings are the result of two headquarters relocations, a merger and a spinoff.

The largest of the new Virginia companies is Northrop Grumman (No. 104), a worldwide defense and aerospace company that moved from Los Angeles to Falls Church last year.
Alpha Natural Resources (356) is a Bristol-based coal producer that merged with Richmond-based Massey Energy last year.

ITT Exelis (422) is an aerospace and defense company spun off from the White Plains, N.Y.-based ITT Corp. last year.

Alliant Techsystems (491), which develops and manufactures highly engineered materials for defense and aerospace customers, moved its headquarters from Minneapolis to Arlington in October.

Understandably, all but a handful of the state’s Fortune 500 companies are based in Northern Virginia, given multiple estimates that direct federal spending (most of it from the Pentagon) accounts for about a third of the commonwealth’s total economic activity. 

This group is led by mortgage guarantor Freddie Mac (No. 25 on the 2012 Fortune 500 list), defense contractors General Dynamics (92) and Northrop Grumman, Capital One Financial (148) and international electric conglomerate AES Corp. (151).

Despite its high ranking on the Fortune 500, Freddie Mac is not included on Virginia Business’ list of largest publicly traded companies. The company, a government-sponsored enterprise or GSE, has been under conservatorship since 2008 and its stock currently is not publicly traded.

The Richmond region hosts the headquarters of Altria Group (156), Dominion Resources (187), Genworth (258), CarMax (279), Owens & Minor (298) and Mead Westvaco (406).
Meat processor Smithfield Foods (218), the Norfolk Southern railroad (241), discount retailer Dollar Tree (373) and the Amerigroup health insurance company (385) are located in Hampton Roads.

One large Hampton Roads company on the Virginia Business list of top publicly traded companies, Newport News-based Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc., is not on the Fortune 500 list yet. The company, the former shipbuilding division of Northrop Grumman, was spun off at the end of March 2011.

Fortune did not include the company on this year’s list because of Fortune’s spinoff rule. A company that is spun off by another company in the list is not included in the year it is spun off, unless revenues of the spinoff are more than 50 percent of the revenues of its former parent after the spinoff. Fortune includes the spinoff after its first full year of operation.

Advance Auto Parts (392) in Roanoke and Alpha Natural Resources are the only two companies on the list in the western half of the state.

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