Apple rockets up Fortune 500 list, still trails HP

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Apple placed 17th in Fortune's annual ratings of the 500 largest corporations in America, leaping 18 spots from last year's 35th place finish.

Pushing Apple into the top 20 was strong year-over-year revenue growth which saw earnings per share nearly double in 2011 compared to 2010, which allowed the company to offer a dividend for the first time since 1995.

According to Fortune, the iPhone maker's performance in the "Computers, Office Equipment" industry was topped only by Hewlett-Packard, which finished 10th overall. HP's revenue totaled over $127 billion compared to Apple's $108 billion, however the percent of change from 2010 was a stark contrast between the two companies which grew 1 percent and 66 percent, respectively. Apple's profit skyrocketed to nearly $26 billion representing an 85 percent change from 2010, while HP saw negative growth of 19 percent with a little over $7 billion in profits.

When evaluating strictly on profit, Apple's earnings gave it a third place finish overall, outdone by Chevron's $26.8 billion and list-leader Exxon Mobil's $41 billion on revenue of almost $453 billion. The Cupertino, Calif., company placed 7th, 4th and 2nd in revenue growth over the past year, 5 years and 10 years, respectively.

In its recent late-April earnings call, Apple announced its best second quarter ever with $11.6 billion in profit on revenue of $39.19 billion, representing a 94 percent growth year-to-year. Almost all of the company's product lines saw positive growth during the quarter led by 35.1 million iPhones sales representing an 88 percent unit growth. Apple sold 11.8 million iPads and 4 million Macs that accounted for 151 percent and 7 percent unit growth, respectively. iPods sales declined 15 percent from the year ago quarter with 7.7 million sold.

During a following earnings conference call, Apple Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer noted that one of Apple's most important products, the iPhone, was making headway in enterprise and cited certain U.S. government agencies that are also making the switch to iOS.

Apple ranks No. 17 on the 2012 Fortune 500 list. | Source: Fortune

Over the past five years Apple has become the world's largest company by market cap, a leader in the smartphone market and one of the top PC vendors worldwide.

Apple is looking to continue its run as demand for the company's devices in emerging markets like China is expected to fuel sales in the coming quarters.