Lists of state’s largest firms show diversity of its economy

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Print this page by Robert Powell
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Huntington Ingalls Industries was created when Northrop
Grumman spun off its shipbuilding division in 2011.

Lists of the largest companies in Virginia offer a sense of the diversity of the commonwealth’s economy.

Among publicly traded companies, for example, the top 10 corporations include two giant defense contractors, two energy companies, the nation’s largest tobacco company, one of its largest banks and a major East Coast railroad.

Dropped from the list this year is Smithfield-based Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer and processor, which has annual sales of more than $13 billion. The company was bought in late September by a Chinese company, Shuanghui International Holdings Ltd.

One of the defense contractors, Northrop Grumman Corp., set off a bidding war when it announced plans to move its headquarters from Los Angeles to the Washington, D.C., area to be closer to its biggest customer, the federal government. Fairfax County was the winner in a competition with the District of Columbia and Maryland. The company settled into its new digs in summer 2011.

Even before it arrived in Virginia, Northrop Grumman had created another company that now ranks 14th on the publicly traded list. It spun off its shipbuilding unit, which became Newport News-based Huntington Ingalls Industries in March 2011.

Overall, more than half of the publicly traded companies on the top 50 list, 28, are based in Northern Virginia. Thirteen call the Richmond area home, five are in Hampton Roads region, and the rest are in the Roanoke area, Southwest Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley.

The list of the state’s largest private companies includes two that would make the Fortune 500 if they were publicly traded. They are McLean-based candy maker Mars Inc., one of the largest privately held companies in the country, and Performance Food Group, which was a publicly traded company before going private some years ago. Mars has estimated annual sales of $33 billion, while Performance Food had annual sales of $13.2 billion.

Virginia also is home to seven companies on the Black Enterprise magazine annual list of top 100 companies owned by African-Americans and has 19 companies on the Hispanic Business 500.

Largest Companies charts


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