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The 25 Best Stocks by Shareholder Wealth Creation (1926-2022)

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The 25 best stocks shown as bubbles, sized according to the shareholder wealth they have generated since 1926 or when they were first listed on a U.S. stock exchange. Apple is number one and has generated $2.7 trillion in shareholder wealth.

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The 25 Best Stocks by Shareholder Wealth Creation (1926-2022)

Out of 28,114 publicly-listed U.S. companies analyzed over the last century, the 25 best stocks have created nearly a third of all shareholder wealth. Put another way, just 0.1% of stocks have added over $17.6 trillion to investors’ wallets.

In this graphic, we use data from Henrik Bessembinder of Arizona State University to show the best stocks of the last century.

How is Shareholder Wealth Creation Calculated?

Bessembinder took three steps to measure lifetime shareholder wealth creation:

  1. Considered U.S. stocks in the Center for Research in Security Prices database from 1926 (or when the stock was first listed) until 2022 (or when the stock was delisted).
  2. Measured share price changes as well as cash flows to/from shareholders including dividends, spinoffs, share buybacks, and new share issuances.
  3. Calculated the excess wealth generated compared to investing in one-month Treasury bills over the same time period.

If a company exited the database during the period, Bessembinder calculated its delisting return based on any proceeds from mergers or acquisitions as well as estimates of any remaining value after delistings for negative reasons.

GM is the only company within the top 25 to be delisted prior to December 2022. Its second IPO in 2010 was considered a new company and not continuous wealth creation.

The 25 Best Stocks in Modern History

With this definition in mind, here are the best stocks since 1926.

RankCompany Lifetime Wealth Creation First MonthLast Month
1APPLE$2.7TJan‐81Dec‐22
2MICROSOFT$2.1TApr‐86Dec‐22
3EXXON MOBIL$1.2TJul‐26Dec‐22
4ALPHABET$1.0TSep‐04Dec‐22
5AMAZON$764BJun‐97Dec‐22
6BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY$704BNov‐76Dec‐22
7JOHNSON & JOHNSON$661BOct‐44Dec‐22
8WALMART$629BDec‐72Dec‐22
9CHEVRON$583BJul‐26Dec‐22
10PROCTER & GAMBLE$581BSep‐29Dec‐22
11IBM$563BJul‐26Dec‐22
12UNITEDHEALTH GROUP$551BNov‐84Dec‐22
13ALTRIA GROUP$490BJul‐26Dec‐22
14MERCK & CO$478BJun‐46Dec‐22
15HOME DEPOT$477BOct‐81Dec‐22
16COCA COLA$474BJul‐26Dec‐22
17GENERAL ELECTRIC$463BJul‐26Dec‐22
18JPMORGAN CHASE$459BApr‐69Dec‐22
19GENERAL MOTORS$454BJul‐26Jun‐09
20ELI LILLY$418BAug‐70Dec‐22
21ORACLE$383BApr‐86Dec‐22
22VISA$372BApr‐08Dec‐22
23MASTERCARD$370BJun‐06Dec‐22
24PEPSICO$369BJul‐26Dec‐22
25PFIZER$350BFeb‐44Dec‐22

Apple takes the top spot, having created nearly 5% of all shareholder wealth. From the iPod to the iPhone, Apple’s ability to keep innovating has helped it gain a loyal fan base and given the company pricing power. Notably, Apple is America’s most profitable company.

ExxonMobil is the only non-technology company among the five best stocks. When Exxon and Mobil merged in 1999, it was the biggest merger in history and ExxonMobil temporarily became the world’s largest public company by market capitalization. More recently, the company experienced record profits in 2022 due to high oil prices.

The list also shows how wealth-generating patterns have changed over time. While energy and consumer staples are more frequent among older companies in the ranking, the stocks that have created massive wealth in recent years are more likely to be technology or financial companies.

Finding the Next Winners

Given that the names on this list account for 0.1% of all public U.S. stocks, picking out one of the next long-term winners could be a difficult task. In fact, 95% of actively-managed large cap funds—which aim to beat the market through stock picking—underperformed their benchmark over a 20-year period.

Investing in index funds is one possible way to get exposure to top performers. For instance, Apple has been part of the S&P 500 since 1982, about a year after it went public.

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Retail

The World’s Top Retail Companies, by Domestic Revenue

As price pressures and e-commerce reshape shopping behaviors, we show the top retail companies by domestic revenue around the world.

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This circle graphic shows the world's top retail companies by domestic revenue.

The World’s Top Retail Companies, by Domestic Revenue

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

The retail sector plays a vital role in powering economies, contributing $5.3 trillion annually to America’s GDP alone.

Moreover, the industry is America’s biggest private-sector employer, responsible for one of every four jobs, or 55 million employees. Yet in today’s challenging consumer environment, retailers are facing higher e-commerce penetration and inflationary pressures—across an industry notoriously known for razor-thin margins.

This graphic shows the world’s top retail companies by domestic revenue, based on data from the National Retail Federation.

Methodology

To be included in the rankings, companies must engage in a goods-for-consumer resale business accessible to the public and have direct selling operations in a minimum of three countries.

The rankings include both publicly and private companies, and are based on the most recent 52-week period analyzed by the National Retail Federation between January and March 2024. All revenue figures were converted to U.S. dollars.

Ranked: The Top 10 Global Retailers by Domestic Sales

Here are the leading retailers worldwide based on domestic sales as of 2023:

RankingRetailerDomestic Retail Revenue
(USD)
Share of Total Retail RevenueHeadquarters
1Walmart$532.3B85%🇺🇸 U.S.
2Amazon.com$250.0B70%🇺🇸 U.S.
3Costco$175.4B75%🇺🇸 U.S.
4The Home Depot$142.0B94%🇺🇸 U.S.
5Walgreens Boots Alliance$105.1B89%🇺🇸 U.S.
6Alibaba$91.5B97%🇨🇳 China
7Apple$70.9B87%🇺🇸 U.S.
8Aeon$64.3B93%🇯🇵 Japan
9Schwarz Group$56.5B32%🇩🇪 Germany
10Rewe$55.5B75%🇩🇪 Germany

Walmart towers ahead as the world’s largest retailer with $532 billion in domestic revenue—more than Amazon.com and Costco combined.

Known for its everyday low prices, Walmart achieves a competitive advantage through pricing goods approximately 25% cheaper than traditional retail competitors. Overall, groceries make up more than half of total sales. While its main customer base is often low and middle-income shoppers, the retail giant is seeing a surge in sales from higher-income customers as shoppers seek out lower grocery prices.

E-commerce giant, Amazon, is the second-biggest retailer globally, commanding nearly 40% of online retail sales in America. Since 2019, the number of Amazon employees has grown from 800,000 to over 1.5 million in 2023.

While the company has tried to introduce online grocery platforms to the market, it has largely fallen flat given its clunky system in a highly competitive market.

Like Amazon, China’s e-commerce juggernaut, Alibaba, stands as a leading global retailer. Overall, 97% of revenues were generated domestically through online marketplaces Taobao and Tmall. In recent years, the company has focused on international expansion, delivering products to 11 markets including America, in just five days.

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