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20. Liberty Media
Fortune 500 rank: 227
2009 profit: $6.5 billion
Cable billionaire John Malone runs Liberty Media, which controls a bundle of businesses from TV stations QVC and Starz Entertainment to the Atlanta Braves baseball team.

It can be a difficult company to understand, with differently trading securities and a complicated capital structure. But here's the bottom-line: Liberty's earnings almost doubled in 2009 as its stake in Sirius XM, which nearly went bankrupt in 2009, skyrocketed in value.

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Last updated April 28 2010: 12:41 PM ET
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