Rank: 23 (Previous rank: 25)
CEO: David B. Dillon
Was this company a 2011 top stock?
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Food prices are on the rise, but Kroger is hanging tough, for now. Sales at the grocery store giant grew to $90.4 billion in 2011 (which includes its gas pump operations), an increase by more than 10% from the previous year. But the company's 2011 profits took a major hit compared to 2010, largely on account of expenses related to consolidating pension plans for its unionized employees. With some 2,435 stores under several different brand names, Kroger is the largest traditional grocery chain in the country, and it has been able to use its size to keep prices low and snag market share from competitors like Supervalu and even the gargantuan Wal-Mart. The strategy has paid off so far, but it's unclear whether the company can sustain it for much longer, particularly if food prices continue to climb.
Industry: Food and Drug Stores