Adaptability
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No product, service, or strategy is sacred. Change is hard, but the regulars in the 500 are willing and able to change all those things as a shifting environment demands. IBM (IBM, Fortune 500) (No. 20) used to make meat choppers and cheese slicers. General Electric (GE, Fortune 500) (No. 8) made computers and cannons. You can't get and stay big enough for the 500 without adapting continually.


  @FortuneMagazine - Last updated May 06 2013 07:17 AM ET
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Wal-Mart retook the top spot, Berkshire Hathaway made the top five, and Apple grew enormously.

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