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Most generous companies: which corporations give away the most money?

By James Dennin for Kapitall.

Corporations aren't always known for their generosity. But they do give away a lot of money. Walmart (WMT) recently became the first company to give away more than a billion dollars. 

But what's the best way to measure corporate beneficence?

Most lists count charity in terms of cold, hard cash, which isn't exactly fair (and doesn't make for a very interesting list). Unsurprisingly, the biggest companies in America top the corporate benefactor list are Wells Fargo (WF) in the top spot, closely followed by other stalwarts of finance and energy. 

A much more logical way to judge a corporation's philanthropy would be by looking at donations as a net percentage of profits. Unfortunately the Chonicle of Philanthropy and Forbes, the two publications who compile that information stopped using that method in 2011

If we adopt that method the list gets a lot more interesting, however, and a lot more surprising. The Midwestern grocery chain Kroger (KR) tops that list, having given away a whopping 11% of it's profits in 2009. It was closely followed by Macy's (M) and Safeway (SWY)

Will these generous companies see returns on their philanthropy? Use the list below to begin your analysis and let us know what you think in the comments. 

Click on the interactive chart to view data over time. 

 

1. The Kroger Co. (KR, Earnings, Analysts, Financials): Operates as a retailer in the United States. Market cap at $24.61B, most recent closing price at $48.04.

2010 giving as a share of 2009 profits: 10.9%

 

 

2. Macy's, Inc. (M, Earnings, Analysts, Financials): Operates department stores and Internet Web sites in the United States. Market cap at $21.42B, most recent closing price at $60.02.

2010 giving as a share of 2009 profits: 8.1%

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