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7. Merck
Fortune 500 rank: 85
2009 profit: $12.9 billion
What a difference an acquisition makes. Before buying Schering-Plough for $41 billion in 2009, Merck was facing patent losses, heavy competition, and a pipeline of drugs with bad chances for FDA approval.

Now with a revitalized pipeline, including treatments like Schering's Nasonex nasal spray, Merck is back on track. Earnings grew by more than half in 2009, driven mostly by a one-time gain it booked from the merger.

NEXT: 8. AT&T

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Last updated April 28 2010: 12:41 PM ET
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