Wal-Mart has been named the biggest company in America for the third year running by Fortune magazine.

The retail titan topped the Fortune 500 list of large US companies with net 2003 sales of $256.3 billion (€207.2bn; £138.8bn). Exxon Mobil climbed from third in 2002 to second, swapping places with last year's number two General Motors.

In fourth was Ford Motor Company, followed by General Electric, ChevronTexaco, ConocoPhillips, Citigroup, International Business Machines and American International Group.

Fortune heralded 2003 as the "year of the comeback". Across the Fortune 500, revenues totalled $7.5 trillion and profits $445.6bn. Of the 39 industries monitored, 34 saw an increase in profits.

"The nation's largest companies smashed existing sales records," the magazine declared, "and obliterated the dismal, accounting-damaged performance of the past two years."

Data sourced from: The Washington Post Online; additional content by WARC staff