The Biggest Companies in the World in 2021
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The Biggest Companies in the World
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Since the COVID-19 crash, global equity markets have seen a strong recovery. The 100 biggest companies in the world were worth a record-breaking $31.7 trillion as of March 31 2021, up 48% year-over-year. As a point of comparison, the combined GDP of the U.S. and China was $35.7 trillion in 2020.
In today’s graphic, we use PwC data to show the world’s biggest businesses by market capitalization, as well as the countries and sectors they are from.
The Top 100, Ranked
PwC ranked the largest publicly-traded companies by their market capitalization in U.S. dollars. It’s also worth noting that sector classification is based on the FTSE Russell Industry Classification Benchmark, and a company’s location is based on where its headquarters are located.
Here is the top 100 ranking of the biggest companies in the world, organized from the biggest to the smallest.
|Rank||Company name||Location||Sector||Market Capitalization|
|1||APPLE INC||🇺🇸 United States||Technology||$2.1T|
|2||SAUDI ARAMCO||🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia||Energy||$1.9T|
|3||MICROSOFT CORP||🇺🇸 United States||Technology||$1.8T|
|4||AMAZON.COM INC||🇺🇸 United States||Consumer Discretionary||$1.6T|
|5||ALPHABET INC||🇺🇸 United States||Technology||$1.4T|
|6||FACEBOOK INC||🇺🇸 United States||Technology||$839B|
|8||TESLA INC||🇺🇸 United States||Consumer Discretionary||$641B|
|9||ALIBABA GRP||🇨🇳 China||Consumer Discretionary||$615B|
|10||BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY||🇺🇸 United States||Financials||$588B|
|12||VISA INC||🇺🇸 United States||Industrials||$468B|
|13||JPMORGAN CHASE||🇺🇸 United States||Financials||$465B|
|14||JOHNSON & JOHNSON||🇺🇸 United States||Health Care||$433B|
|15||SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS||🇰🇷 South Korea||Technology||$431B|
|16||KWEICHOW MOUTA||🇨🇳 China||Consumer Staples||$385B|
|17||WALMART INC||🇺🇸 United States||Consumer Discretionary||$383B|
|18||MASTERCARD INC||🇺🇸 United States||Industrials||$354B|
|19||UNITEDHEALTH GRP||🇺🇸 United States||Health Care||$352B|
|20||LVMH MOET HENNESSY||🇫🇷 France||Consumer Discretionary||$337B|
|21||WALT DISNEY CO||🇺🇸 United States||Consumer Discretionary||$335B|
|22||BANK OF AMERICA||🇺🇸 United States||Financials||$334B|
|23||PROCTER & GAMBLE||🇺🇸 United States||Consumer Staples||$333B|
|24||NVIDIA CORP||🇺🇸 United States||Technology||$331B|
|25||HOME DEPOT INC||🇺🇸 United States||Consumer Discretionary||$329B|
|26||NESTLE SA||🇨🇭 Switzerland||Consumer Staples||$322B|
|27||IND & COMM BK||🇨🇳 China||Financials||$290B|
|28||PAYPAL HOLDINGS||🇺🇸 United States||Industrials||$284B|
|29||ROCHE HOLDING||🇨🇭 Switzerland||Health Care||$283B|
|30||INTEL CORP||🇺🇸 United States||Technology||$261B|
|31||ASML HOLDING NV||🇳🇱 Netherlands||Technology||$255B|
|32||TOYOTA MOTOR||🇯🇵 Japan||Consumer Discretionary||$254B|
|33||COMCAST CORP||🇺🇸 United States||Telecommunications||$248B|
|34||VERIZON COMMUNICATIONS||🇺🇸 United States||Telecommunications||$241B|
|35||EXXON MOBIL CORP||🇺🇸 United States||Energy||$236B|
|36||NETFLIX INC||🇺🇸 United States||Consumer Discretionary||$231B|
|37||ADOBE INC||🇺🇸 United States||Technology||$228B|
|38||COCA-COLA CO||🇺🇸 United States||Consumer Staples||$227B|
|40||PING AN||🇨🇳 China||Financials||$219B|
|41||CISCO SYSTEMS||🇺🇸 United States||Telecommunications||$218B|
|42||AT&T INC||🇺🇸 United States||Financials||$216B|
|43||L'OREAL||🇫🇷 France||Consumer Discretionary||$215B|
|45||ABBOTT LABS||🇺🇸 United States||Health Care||$212B|
|46||NOVARTIS AG||🇨🇭 Switzerland||Health Care||$212B|
|47||NIKE INC||🇺🇸 United States||Consumer Discretionary||$209B|
|48||ORACLE CORP||🇺🇸 United States||Technology||$202B|
|49||PFIZER INC||🇺🇸 United States||Health Care||$202B|
|50||CHEVRON CORP||🇺🇸 United States||Oil & Gas||$202B|
|51||CHINA MERCH||🇨🇳 China||Financials||$196B|
|52||PEPSICO INC||🇺🇸 United States||Consumer Staples||$195B|
|53||SALESFORCE.COM||🇺🇸 United States||Technology||$195B|
|54||MERCK & CO||🇺🇸 United States||Health Care||$195B|
|55||ABBVIE INC||🇺🇸 United States||Health Care||$191B|
|56||BROADCOM INC||🇺🇸 United States||Technology||$189B|
|57||PROSUS NV||🇳🇱 Netherlands||Technology||$181B|
|58||RELIANCE INDS||🇮🇳 India||Energy||$180B|
|59||THERMO FISHER||🇺🇸 United States||Health Care||$180B|
|60||ELI LILLY & CO||🇺🇸 United States||Health Care||$179B|
|61||AGRICULTURAL BANK OF|
|62||SOFTBANK GROUP||🇯🇵 Japan||Telecommunications||$176B|
|63||ACCENTURE PLC||🇮🇪 Ireland||Industrials||$176B|
|64||TEXAS INSTRUMENT||🇺🇸 United States||Technology||$174B|
|65||MCDONALDS CORP||🇺🇸 United States||Consumer Discretionary||$167B|
|66||VOLKSWAGEN AG||🇩🇪 Germany||Consumer Discretionary||$165B|
|67||BHP GROUP LTD||🇦🇺 Australia||Basic Materials||$163B|
|68||WELLS FARGO & CO||🇺🇸 United States||Financials||$162B|
|69||TATA CONSULTANCY||🇮🇳 India||Technology||$161B|
|70||DANAHER CORP||🇺🇸 United States||Health Care||$160B|
|71||NOVO NORDISK||🇩🇰 Denmark||Health Care||$160B|
|72||MEDTRONIC PLC||🇮🇪 Ireland||Health Care||$159B|
|73||WULIANGYE YIBI||🇨🇳 China||Consumer Staples||$159B|
|74||COSTCO WHOLESALE||🇺🇸 United States||Consumer Discretionary||$156B|
|75||T-MOBILE US INC||🇺🇸 United States||Telecommunications||$156B|
|76||CITIGROUP INC||🇺🇸 United States||Financials||$152B|
|77||HONEYWELL INTL||🇺🇸 United States||Industrials||$151B|
|78||QUALCOMM INC||🇺🇸 United States||Technology||$151B|
|79||SAP SE||🇩🇪 Germany||Technology||$151B|
|80||BOEING CO||🇺🇸 United States||Industrials||$149B|
|81||ROYAL DUTCH SHELL||🇳🇱 Netherlands||Oil & Gas||$148B|
|82||NEXTERA ENERGY||🇺🇸 United States||Utilities||$148B|
|83||UNITED PARCEL||🇺🇸 United States||Industrials||$148B|
|84||UNION PAC CORP||🇺🇸 United States||Industrials||$148B|
|85||UNILEVER PLC||🇬🇧 United Kingdom||Consumer Staples||$147B|
|86||AIA||🇭🇰 Hong Kong SAR||Financials||$147B|
|87||LINDE PLC||🇬🇧 United Kingdom||Basic Materials||$146B|
|88||AMGEN INC||🇺🇸 United States||Health Care||$144B|
|89||BRISTOL-MYER SQB||🇺🇸 United States||Health Care||$141B|
|90||SIEMENS AG||🇩🇪 Germany||Industrials||$140B|
|91||BANK OF CHINA||🇨🇳 China||Financials||$139B|
|92||PHILIP MORRIS INC||🇺🇸 United States||Consumer Staples||$138B|
|93||LOWE'S COS INC||🇺🇸 United States||Consumer Discretionary||$136B|
|🇺🇸 United States||Telecommunications||$135B|
|95||CHINA MOBILE||🇭🇰 Hong Kong SAR||Telecommunications||$134B|
|96||SONY GROUP CORP||🇯🇵 Japan||Consumer Discretionary||$132B|
|97||ASTRAZENECA PLC||🇬🇧 United Kingdom||Health Care||$131B|
|98||ROYAL BANK OF CANADA||🇨🇦 Canada||Financials||$131B|
|99||STARBUCKS CORP||🇺🇸 United States||Consumer Discretionary||$129B|
|100||ANHEUSER-BUSCH||🇧🇪 Belgium||Consumer Staples||$128B|
Note: Data as of March 31, 2021.
Within the ranking, there was a wide disparity in value. Apple was worth over $2 trillion, more than 16 times that of Anheuser-Busch (AB InBev), which took the 100th spot at $128 billion.
In total, 59 companies were headquartered in the United States, making up 65% of the top 100’s total market capitalization. China and its regions was the second most common location for company headquarters, with 14 companies on the list.
Risers and Fallers
What are some of the notable changes to the biggest companies in the world compared to last year’s ranking?
Tesla’s market capitalization surged by an eye-watering 565%, temporarily making Elon Musk the richest person in the world. Food delivery platform Meituan and PayPal benefited from growing e-commerce popularity with their market capitalizations growing by 221% and 151% respectively.
Tech companies TSMC and ASML Holdings were also among the top 10 risers, thanks to a shortage of semiconductor chips and growing demand.
On the other end of the scale, Swiss companies Nestlé, Novartis, and Roche Holding were all among the bottom 10 companies by market capitalization growth. China Mobile was the only company to decline with a -12% change. The company was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange as a result of an executive order issued by former president Donald Trump, and recently announced its intention to list on the Shanghai Stock Exchange.
A Sector View
Across the 100 biggest companies in the world, some sectors had higher weightings.
|Sector||Total Market Cap in Top 100||% of Top 100 Market Cap||Number of Companies in Top 100|
Technology had the highest market capitalization and was also the most common sector, with Big Tech dominating the top 10. Companies in the consumer discretionary, financials, and health care sectors also had a strong representation in the ranking.
Despite having only five companies on the list, the energy sector amounted to almost 10% of the top 100’s market capitalization, mostly due to Saudi Aramco’s whopping valuation.
An Uncertain Recovery
From near market lows on March 31, 2020, all sectors saw increases in their market capitalization. However, top 100 companies in some sectors outperformed their respective industry index, while others did not.
Basic materials and industrials, both cyclical sectors, were high performers in the top 100 and outperformed their respective industry indexes. Technology companies also outperformed, and accounted for $255 billion or 31% of all shareholder distributions by the top 100, far more than any other sector. Apple alone spent $73 billion on share buybacks and $14 billion in dividends in the 2020 calendar year.
On the other hand, the worst-performing sectors in the top 100 were health care, utilities, and energy. While the index performance for health care and utilities was also relatively poor, the wider energy sector performed fairly well.
It’s perhaps not surprising that all sectors saw positive returns since their low levels in March 2020, buoyed by fiscal stimulus and central bank policies. As countries begin to reopen, will the value of the biggest companies in the world continue to climb?
Animated Chart: The S&P 500 in 2023 So Far
Track the S&P 500’s performance in 2023, including all 500 companies, and the sectors they belong to, in this animated video.
The S&P 500’s Performance in 2023 Q1
With one quarter of 2023 in the books, how has the S&P 500 performed so far?
The index had a tumultuous 2022, ending the year down 18%, its worst performance since 2008. But so far, despite dealing with tight monetary conditions and an unexpected banking crisis, the S&P 500 has promptly started to rebound.
The above animation from Jan Varsava shows the stock performance of each company on the S&P 500, categorized by sector.
Biggest Gainers on the S&P 500
The S&P 500 increased 7.5% during the first quarter of 2023. Though it was led by a few big outperformers, more than half of the stocks on the index closed above their end-of-December prices.
Here are the top 30 biggest gainers on the index from January 1 to March 31, 2023.
|4||Warner Bros. Discovery||59.3%|
|12||Monolithic Power Systems||41.8%|
|14||GE Healthcare Tech||40.5%|
|22||Royal Caribbean Group||32.1%|
|23||ON Semiconductor Corp||32.0%|
|25||Cadence Design Systems||30.8%|
Nvidia shares gained the most of all the companies on the S&P 500 in Q1 2023, posting a staggering 90% return over three months.
As the world’s largest chipmaker by market cap, Nvidia gained from both strong earnings and semiconductor industry performance. It also benefited from the rising prevalence of artificial intelligence (AI) through software like ChatGPT.
Meanwhile, other tech giants Apple and Microsoft gained 27% and 21% respectively over the same time period.
Tech Leads Returns by Sector
The technology sector as a whole was the best performing sectoral index thanks to these big moves, up 21.7% at the end of March.
Shares of other tech-adjacent companies like Meta (formerly Facebook) and Tesla—listed on the S&P 500 under the categories of communication services and consumer discretionary—also had a strong start to the year and lifted their respective sectors.
Meta in particular is up 76% in Q1 2023, continuing its rebound after falling to an eight-year low in November 2022 on the back of better-than-expected fourth quarter results and share buybacks.
Biggest Losers on the S&P 500
On the other side of the S&P 500, the financial sector was rocked by sudden collapses.
Signature Bank and Silicon Valley Financial Group shares lost the most ground in the first quarter, after both banks collapsed, shedding nearly all of their value in a matter of 30 days.
In fact, seven of the 10 worst performers on the index to start 2023 are banks or financial companies. The visualization shows the ripple effect on the market after the collapse of regional banks in March, and the ensuing rout driving the entire sector down 5.6% year-to-date.
Here are the top 30 biggest losers on the index from January 1 to March 31, 2023.
|2||Silicon Valley Financial Group||-99.6%|
|3||First Republic Bank||-88.5%|
|6||Charles Schwab Corp||-36.9%|
|10||Lincoln National Corp||-25.8%|
|14||Citizens Financial Group||-22.1%|
|15||Enphase Energy Inc.||-20.6%|
|16||Baxter International Inc.||-19.9%|
|17||Truist Financial Corporation||-19.9%|
|18||American International Group||-19.8%|
|19||CVS Health Corporation||-19.7%|
|27||PNC Financial Services||-18.8%|
|29||Fifth Third Bancorp||-17.8%|
Despite the tight monetary landscape, traditionally defensive sectors like energy, consumer staples, and healthcare also underperformed the broader index. This is a reversal from market trends seen in 2022.
Investment Trends to Watch for in 2023
Experts predict a pause in U.S. interest rate hikes “sometime in 2023” but it’s unclear when (or at what level) the pause will take place given persistent inflation in the economy.
However, if interest rates level off in 2023, it could be a key momentum maker for the S&P 500. As Barron’s points out, the index tends to rise after hikes are paused.
Meanwhile, the current tumult in the financial sector is fanning the flames of recessionary fears. How effectively regulators manage the crisis might be the story of the year.
Finally, as we have seen in 2023 so far, investor interest in AI has sent tech stocks soaring. Is this a quick fad, or an overarching trend for the year?
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