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Pfizer ranks at the top in philanthropy

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Pfizer Inc. topped the list of America's most generous companies in 2009, according to a listing by The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

The pharmaceutical giant, which has major research offices in Groton and New London, gave away cash and products valued at $2.3 billion last year, though no breakdown was provided for the two categories of donations. The amount topped giving by any other company, and represented more than 24 percent of 2008 profits - also higher than any other corporation in America.

Pfizer upped its giving by 23.7 percent year-over-year, bucking a trend among companies that saw more than half of them cut back on charitable donations last year, according to the philanthropy survey.

"In a year when profits were beginning to bounce back, many of them slimmed down their cash donations," The Chronicle of Philanthropy noted in an online article.

The publication's survey showed that combined cash and product giving declined last year for the first time since 2003. Companies averaged giveaways totaling 1.2 percent of their 2008 profits last year.

Wal-Mart was the largest cash contributor in the United States last year, according to the survey.

The retail king gave out $288.1 million in cash, a decline of about $32 million from the year before, but boosted combined giving by 14.4 percent by handing out products worth $200 million more than in the previous year.

Overall cash donations fell by 7.5 percent last year for the country's 300 top-earning companies, according to the survey.

Most generous corporations:

NAME AMOUNT PERCENT/PROFITS

Pfizer $2.3 billion 24.2%

Tyson Foods $16.4 million 10.7%

Abbott Labs $584 million 10.0%

Comcast $407 million 10.0%

Oracle Corp. $2.1 billion 9.3%

Eli Lilly $406 million 7.2%

Wells Fargo $202 million 6.2%

Target Corp. $188 million 5.3%

Bristol-Myers $282 million 5.2%

General Mills $91 million 5.2%

Source: The Chronicle of Philanthropy

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