The Most Valuable Companies in America Over 100 Years
How much does the business world shift in a century?
Today’s visualization comes from HowMuch.net, and it uses Forbes data to show how the list of the top 10 companies in the U.S. has evolved over the last 100 years.
1917: The Industrialist Era
In 1911, both John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil and J.P. Morgan’s U.S. Steel (which was formed from Andrew Carnegie’s steel company and others) were facing antitrust action.
Standard Oil, which controlled over 90% of all oil in the United States by 1900, got split up into 34 independent companies after a ruling by the Supreme Court. However, U.S. Steel, which controlled 67% of steel in the country, was able to weather the antitrust storm at the time.
In the chart showing data for 1917, you can see that U.S. Steel – which was considered the world’s first “billion dollar” company – reigned supreme in the U.S. based on the value of its assets. Meanwhile, Standard Oil of N.J. (a fragment of the Standard Oil breakup) was still able to finish in the third spot on the list.
1967: The Hardware Era
Fast forward 50 years, and oil is still big.
Standard Oil of N.J. (eventually to be re-named as Exxon Corp. in 1972) is the fifth biggest company in the country. Texaco and Gulf Oil, both of which later merged into Chevron (another Standard Oil offshoot) also make the top 10 in terms of market valuation.
Aside from energy, the 1967 list seems dominated by companies that make tangible things. IBM was making some of the first and most advanced computers, GM was the largest U.S. auto manufacturer, and both Kodak and Polaroid made cameras. General Electric, a conglomerate, made everything from computers to jet engines at this time.
2017: The Platform Era
Fast forward to now, and platforms like Facebook, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Apple have taken over.
Meanwhile, many of the stalwarts from 1967 have fallen: Polaroid and Kodak both filed for bankruptcy, and Sears Canada filed for bankruptcy months ago. And of the big names from 1917, only AT&T remains of significance.
This raises the question: what will the next 50 years hold – and how many names from the 2017 list will remain?
Charted: What are Retail Investors Interested in Buying in 2023?
What key themes and strategies are retail investors looking at for the rest of 2023? Preview: AI is a popular choice.
Charted: Retail Investors’ Top Picks for 2023
U.S. retail investors, enticed by a brief pause in the interest rate cycle, came roaring back in the early summer. But what are their investment priorities for the second half of 2023?
We visualized the data from Public’s 2023 Retail Investor Report, which surveyed 1,005 retail investors on their platform, asking “which investment strategy or themes are you interested in as part of your overall investment strategy?”
Survey respondents ticked all the options that applied to them, thus their response percentages do not sum to 100%.
Where Are Retail Investors Putting Their Money?
By far the most popular strategy for retail investors is dividend investing with 50% of the respondents selecting it as something they’re interested in.
Dividends can help supplement incomes and come with tax benefits (especially for lower income investors or if the dividend is paid out into a tax-deferred account), and can be a popular choice during more inflationary times.
|Investment Strategy||Percent of Respondents|
|Total Stock Market Index||36%|
|Gold & Precious Metals||23%|
Meanwhile, the hype around AI hasn’t faded, with 36% of the respondents saying they’d be interested in investing in the theme—including juggernaut chipmaker Nvidia. This is tied for second place with Total Stock Market Index investing.
Treasury Bills (30%) represent the safety anchoring of the portfolio but the ongoing climate crisis is also on investors’ minds with Renewable Energy (33%) and EVs (27%) scoring fairly high on the interest list.
Commodities and Inflation-Protection stocks on the other hand have fallen out of favor.
Come on Barbie, Let’s Go Party…
Another interesting takeaway pulled from the survey is how conversations about prevailing companies—or the buzz around them—are influencing trades. The platform found that public investors in Mattel increased 6.6 times after the success of the ‘Barbie’ movie.
Bud Light also saw a 1.5x increase in retail investors, despite receiving negative attention from their fans after the company did a beer promotion campaign with trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney.
Given the origin story of a large chunk of American retail investors revolves around GameStop and AMC, these insights aren’t new, but they do reveal a persisting trend.
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