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Thursday, April 15, 2010, 12:55 pm PT (03:55 pm ET)

Apple jumps to No. 56 in annual Fortune 500 rankings

Fortune magazine on Thursday released its annual list of the Fortune 500 U.S. companies with the highest gross revenue in 2010, and Apple moved up 15 spots to take the 56th overall position.

Apple took in $36.537 billion in revenue in 2009, a 12.5 percent increase from its totals in 2008. The Mac maker ranked as the third-largest company in the computers and office equipment category, behind only HP ($114.552 billion, 10th overall) and Dell ($52.902 billion, 38th overall).

Apple was also the 26th-most-profitable company in the rankings, with its $5.704 billion in 2009 profits beating companies like Walt Disney and McDonalds, but coming short of partner AT&T and rivals Google and Microsoft.

The rankings also show how 2009 was an exemplary year for AAPL investors, who saw a 146.9 percent return in the 12-month span. The average annual return rate from 1999 to 2009 was 23.4 percent over the 10-year period.

Apple, however, did not make the cut for Fortune's list of the "100 Best Companies to Work For." Tech companies that appeared on both that list and the Fortune 500 included Microsoft, intel, Qualcomm and Google.

Topping the Fortune 500 this year was Wal-Mart, which took in $408.214 billion in revenue, and $14.355 billion in profit. Other noteworthy companies and their revenues found in the top 100: AT&T (7th, $123.018 billion), Microsoft (36th, $58.437 billion), Intel (62nd, $35.127 billion), and Amazon.com (100th, $24.509 billion).

Fortune has had high praise for Apple of late, naming Steve Jobs the "CEO of the Decade" last November. While that honor was an editorial decision, Thursday's newly revealed Fortune 500 rankings are based purely on raw numbers.

But the magazine wasn't the only one to credit Jobs with Apple's success. In December, Jobs was also named the world's best-performing CEO for increasing his company's market cap a whopping $150 billion over a 12-year span. Jobs finished comfortably in first place of the Harvard Business Review rankings, well ahead of second-place Yun Jong-Yong of Samsung Electronics. And in March, Barron's declared Jobs was the most valuable CEO in the world.