Royal Dutch Shell

While Europe's biggest oil company fell out of the Global 500's top spot, its earnings beat those of rivals ExxonMobil and BP. The recession cut energy demand, causing prices to fall far below their record highs of 2008, but CEO Peter Voser took bold steps to make the company more competitive, selling assets, merging divisions and cutting jobs.

2010 looks better, but Voser admits on Shell's website that the Gulf oil spill is adding to market uncertainty. He says the disaster will have a significant impact on offshore operations, resulting in potentially more regulation and higher costs.