S.C. down to 1 firm on Fortune 500

Oil giant ExxonMobil took the top spot in the new Fortune 500 list of U.S. companies that generated the most revenue last year. (AP Photo/Lisa Poole/File)

The only truly South Carolina-born and bred member of the exclusive Fortune 500 club didn’t make the cut this year.

Utility owner SCANA Corp. dropped off the annual ranking of the nation’s top mega-corporations, which was released Monday.

The list is based on the yearly revenues of publicly traded U.S. companies.

Cayce-based SCANA, which owns South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. and traces its roots back to Charleston, brought in about $4.41 billion in 2011.

That wasn’t quite enough: The minimum threshold was about $4.77 billion, which was how much No. 500-ranked Molina Healthcare generated last year.

The Palmetto State is still represented on the list by Canadian-owned Domtar, which has its U.S. corporate offices in Fort Mill. The Montreal-based paper maker slipped from 394th place last year to the 436th spot, as its sales declined about 4 percent to $5.6 billion.

SCANA said it first appeared on the Fortune 500 in 2001.

“The Fortune 500 ranks companies solely on revenues generated and is not necessarily a barometer of financial health,” the company said in a written statement Monday.

SCANA also said that its business is affected by fuel costs, and that 2011 revenue was down partly because of historically low natural gas rates.

The company noted that its stock continues to be listed on the S&P 500 Index.

Economists downplayed the real-world impact of gaining or losing spots on the Fortune 500. “I don’t think it means much from an economic-performance standpoint, but it’s certainly a matter of pride,” said Wells Fargo senior economist Mark Vitner, whose employer was No. 26 on the new Fortune list.

Frank Hefner of the College of Charleston’s Business School joked that he was “devastated” by the new revenue rankings. The list makes for “nice advertising copy,” he said, but being included or excluded by Fortune isn’t all that relevant.

“I guess when you do public relations for a state, you get bragging rights when you get to say you have so many Fortune 500 companies,” Hefner said. “I’m more excited about the unemployment rate holding steady, and that it looks like parts of the U.S. economy are improving.”

The top company among the newly reshuffled Fortune 500 is oil giant ExxonMobil Corp., which had nearly $453 billion in sales last year.

The Palmetto State has been represented on the list for all but four years since Fortune magazine began publishing the annual corporate revenue review in 1955. South Carolina had its best showing in 1990, when Springs Industries, Sonoco, Bowater Inc., JPS Textile Group and Delta Woodside Industries all made the cut.

Reach John McDermott at 937-5572.