Fortune Magazine Releases Global 500 List the Fleming Cos., Phillips Petroleum Co. Rank in the Top 300 of the World's Biggest Companies

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NEW YORK -- Small can be sweeter, even for the world's biggest companies.

Having stripped down in the past few years, Fortune magazine's Global 500 list saw profits soar 25.1 percent in 1996, even as revenue barely budged.

There's also a new No. 1, albeit a familiar one: General Motors Corp. jumped to the top of the list released Tuesday, bumping Mitsubishi to No. 4. The Global 500, which combines the biggest industrial and service companies in the world, ranks companies by revenue. Together, the 500 took in $11.435 trillion last year, led by GM and No. 2 Ford Motor. But that's up only 0.5 percent from 1995, the smallest increase since the first Global 500 list in 1990. Employment also was flat, growing just 1.1 percent. In contrast, profits soared. Of the top 10 companies, only No. 6, Royal Dutch Shell Group, recorded double-digit revenue growth. Yet five of the top 10 businesses saw double-digit profit growth. Royal Dutch Shell was the most profitable company for the third straight year, taking in $8.89 billion, up 28.7 percent from 1995. Two Oklahoma companies made the list: * The Fleming Cos. …