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Allegheny off Fortune 500 list

March 23, 2004|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

As the rich got richer, Allegheny Energy dropped in value and was left behind.

Fortune magazine's 2004 list of America's 500 top-revenue businesses was released Sunday and, for the first time in five years, Allegheny Energy was not on it.

Allegheny Energy barely made the 2003 list with $2.96 billion in revenue, which put the company in 496th place. The 500th company, Neiman Marcus, had $2.95 billion in revenue.

This year, the cutoff to be in the top 500 rose while Allegheny Energy's revenue dropped.

Allegheny Energy - a gas and electricity supplier with headquarters on Downsville Pike outside Hagerstown - had $2.47 billion in revenue, 605th in Fortune's rankings.

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The 500th company on the 2004 list is Newmont Mining Corp., which had $3.21 billion in revenue.

Wal-Mart, with $258.7 billion in revenue, was first on the list for the third year in a row.

In a press release announcing the list, Fortune quoted one of its writers, Janice Revell, who said this year's rankings show that "the nation's largest companies smashed existing sales records, and obliterated the dismal, accounting-damaged performance of the past two years."

The financial picture has been grimmer for Allegheny Energy, which was on the brink of bankruptcy last year.

The company, which suffered in the energy trading market, has showed signs of recovery, cutting net losses from $633 million in 2002 to $355 million last year. A new management team was brought in.

On March 8, the company announced a plan to refinance $1.55 billion in debt.

Fortune 500 companies often identify themselves as such because of the prestige the designation carries.

But dropping off the list is no catastrophe, Allegheny Energy spokesman Allen Staggers said Monday.

"The Fortune 500 is based on companies' annual operating revenues, and whether or not we're on that list is a function of what our revenues are," he said in a telephone message left after a request for comment. "Our business has changed over the years, and our revenues have changed as a result of that.'

Fortune 500 records show that Allegheny Energy was on the list in 1995 and 1996 and from 2000 to 2003. Allegheny Energy was ranked 185th on the 2002 list with $10.38 billion in revenue.

In the past, the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission has mentioned that the area is home to a Fortune 500 company, but it's not part of any marketing strategy, Timothy Troxell, the commission's executive director, said.

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