None of that was particularly surprising to me, but I wasn’t aware of the lead that Wal-Mart held over the runners-up. Fortune offers these hypothetical cases that could occur to oust Wal-Mart from the top spot.
By this time next year, it plans to be another $26 billion higher, bringing its revenues to $272 billion. Assuming it hits that goal, is there any scenario in which Wal-Mart is not No. 1 next year? Improbable but not impossible is that oil prices rise—yet not so far that SUV drivers stop filling up—pushing Exxon Mobil into the lead for a year. Barring that scenario, here’s the best we could do:
- All the defense companies on the list (Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and four others) merge to form Military Industrial Complex Inc. Total revenues: $162 billion. Not even close.
- Antitrust regulators bless the creation of ExxonMobilChevronTexaco: $182 billion + $92 billion = $274 billion. The winner by a nose.
- General Motors and Ford join hands: $187 billion + $163 billion = $350 billion. A new No. 1! Unless ...
- Average coffee consumption spikes from 1.6 cups per day to 284 cups. Starbucks leaps straight to the top.
Wow, capitalism at work.