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Animation: The Largest Public Companies by Market Cap (2000–2022)



The Largest Public Companies by Market Cap (2000–2022)

The 10 largest public companies in the world had a combined market capitalization of nearly $12 trillion as of July 2022.

But two decades ago, the players that made up the list of the largest companies by market capitalization were radically different—and as the years ticked by, emerging megatrends and market sentiment have worked to shuffle the deck multiple times.

This racing bar chart by Truman Du shows how the ranking of the top 10 largest public companies has changed from 2000 to 2022.

Market Cap vs. Market Value

Before diving in, it’s worth noting that market capitalization is just one of many metrics that can be used to help value a company.

Simply put, a company’s market cap measures the combined price of a company’s outstanding shares—in other words, it’s the price someone would pay if they wanted to purchase the company outright at current stock prices (theoretically speaking).

But while a market cap provides insight into what equity is worth at a given time, calculating the market value is far more complicated and nuanced. After all, a price paid might not reflect the actual value of a business. To get a measure of value, other metrics like a company’s price-to-sales (P/S) ratio, price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio, or return-on-equity (ROE) may be considered.

The Largest Public Companies by Market Cap (2000–2022)

Over the last two decades, investor sentiment has shifted as different trends have played out, and the types of companies buoyed up by the market have changed as well.

For instance, tech and telecom companies were big in the very early 2000s, as investors got excited about the seemingly endless potential of the newly-introduced World Wide Web.

Largest Companies by Market Cap (January 1, 2000)

RankCompanyMarket Cap (Jan 1, 2000)
#1🇺🇸 Microsoft$606 billion
#2🇺🇸 General Electric$508 billion
#3🇯🇵 NTT Docomo$367 billion
#4🇺🇸 Cisco$352 billion
#5🇺🇸 Walmart$302 billion
#6🇺🇸 Intel$280 billion
#7🇯🇵 Nippon Telegraph$271 billion
#8🇫🇮 Nokia$219 billion
#9🇺🇸 Pfizer$206 billion
#10🇩🇪 Deutsche Telekom$197 billion

In the middle of the Dotcom bubble, investors were pouring money into internet-related tech startups. As PC and internet adoption picked up, investors hoped to “get in early” before these companies started to really turn a profit. This overzealous sentiment is reflected in the market capitalizations of public companies at the time, especially in the tech or telecom companies that were seen as benefitting from the internet boom.

Of course, the Dotcom bubble was not meant to last, and by January 2004 the top 10 list was looking much more diverse. At this time, Microsoft had lost the top spot to General Electric, which had a market cap of $309 billion. Then in the late 2000s, energy companies such as ExxonMobil, PetroChina, Gazprom, and BP took over the list as oil prices spiked well over $100 per barrel.

But fast forward to 2022, and we’ve come full circle, with Big Tech back in the limelight again.

Largest Companies by Market Cap (July 1, 2022)

RankCompanyMarket Cap (Jul 1, 2022)
#1🇸🇦 Saudi Aramco$2.27 trillion
#2🇺🇸 Apple$2.25 trillion
#3🇺🇸 Microsoft$1.94 trillion
#4🇺🇸 Alphabet$1.43 trillion
#5🇺🇸 Amazon$1.11 trillion
#6🇺🇸 Tesla$707 billion
#7🇺🇸 Berkshire Hathaway$612 billion
#8🇺🇸 United Health Group$485 billion
#9🇺🇸 Johnson & Johnson$472 billion
#10🇨🇳 Tencent$435 billion

Four of the five largest companies are in tech, and Tencent also cracks the list. Meanwhile, Tesla is classified as an automotive company, but it is thought of as an “internet of cars” company by many investors.

Big Picture Trends in the Top 10 by Market Cap List

YearDescriptionTop Company (Market Cap USD)Top 10 Description
2000Dotcom BubbleMicrosoft ($606B)Multiple tech/telecom companies in the mix
2004Post-BubbleGE ($309B)Diverse mix of companies by industry
2009Financial CrisisPetroChina ($367B)Six non-U.S. companies make the list
2014$100 OilApple ($560B)Last year of oil-dominated list; tech starts ascending
2022Big Tech EraAramco ($2,270B)*Tech accounts for 80% of Top 5 companies

*As of July 1, 2022. Since then, Saudi Aramco has been re-surpassed by Apple due to a reversal in oil prices.

Trending Downwards?

Amidst rising interest rates, crippling inflation, and political issues like the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, signs point towards a potential global recession. Tech companies fared well during the COVID-19 pandemic, but will likely not be immune to the impacts of a generalized economic slowdown.

It’ll be interesting to see how things pan out in 2023, and which companies (if any) will manage to stay on top throughout the turmoil.

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This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.

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Will the U.S. Get Hit With a Recession in 2024?

In this graphic, we show the probability of a U.S. recession in 2024, based on forecasts from Wall Street, Main Street, and the C-Suite.



Will the U.S. Get Hit With a Recession in 2024?

This was originally posted on Advisor Channel. Sign up to the free mailing list to get beautiful visualizations on financial markets that help advisors and their clients.

For much of the last year, recession fears have been building against a sharp rise in interest rates and market uncertainty.

Only recently has there been a shift in sentiment. Given the resilience of the U.S. economy, a growing amount of investors are seeing an increasing likelihood of a soft landing—where the Federal Reserve raises interest rates to combat inflation without triggering a recession. However, many still remain cautious.

This graphic shows U.S. economic forecasts across Wall Street, Main Street, and C-Suite for 2024.

The Probability of a Recession in 2024

Here’s what key players are projecting for the economy:

ForecasterEstimated U.S. Recession Probability (Next 12 Months)
Federal Reserve Staff0%
Yield Curve*61%
Goldman Sachs15%
Bank of America35-40%

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Wolters Kluwer, The Conference Board, Goldman Sachs Investment Research, Bank of America. Data based on surveys and projections conducted August-September. *Based on a New York Fed model estimating recession probabilities using 10-year minus 3-month Treasury yield spreads, based on data from 1959-2009. **Conference Board Q3 CEO survey probability of a recession over the next 12-18 months.

In July, the Federal Reserve staff announced that they were no longer forecasting a recession in 2024, marking a sharp departure from earlier projections.

While the Fed staff continue to share a brighter outlook, the yield curve spread between 10-year and 3-month Treasury rates suggests there is a 61% change of a recession in the 12 months ahead. Historically, the yield curve has been a reliable predictor of recessions, based on a New York Fed model which uses data from 1959-2009.

Meanwhile, a survey of economists by Wolters Kluwer shows that they’re split, with 48% calling for a recession over the next 12 months.

Across Main Street, consumers share a more cautious sentiment, with over 69% saying that a recession is likely in the next year, based on a Conference Board survey.

Yet corners of America’s C-suite have grown more positive. Goldman Sachs recently dropped its recession forecast to a 15% likelihood while Bank of America gives it a 35-40% odds. On the other hand, 84% of CEOs are preparing for a recession in the next 12-18 months, a drop from 92% seen in the second quarter of 2023.

Bull Case vs. Bear Case Signals

Among the key factors investors are closely watching center around the impact of higher interest rates on the economy.

For the bull case, higher rates appear as though they haven’t significantly impacted consumer spending yet, although spending has slowed on non-essential items. Retail sales continue to be solid, and earnings across Home Depot, Walmart, Lowe’s, and other major retailers show resilience. Where the main changes are occurring are with consumers purchasing more affordable options.

However, consumers are relying increasingly on borrowing for spending.

For the bear case scenario, household debt has hit record highs of $17 trillion in March, rising 19% year-over-year. Higher rates have led these borrowing costs to jump, likely affecting household budgets. Meanwhile, corporate defaults have accelerated in 2023, and are projected to keep rising.

Overall, there are mixed signals across the wider economy, and it’s unclear if the country will experience or avoid a recession in 2024. Quantifying the full effects of higher interest rates on consumers and businesses remains an open question.

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