The World’s 20 Most Profitable Companies
The biggest chunk of the earnings pie is increasingly split by fewer and fewer companies.
In the U.S. for example, about 50% of all profit generated by public companies goes to just 30 companies — back in 1975, it took 109 companies to accomplish the same feat:
|Year||Number of Firms Generating 50% of Earnings||Total Public Companies (U.S.)||Portion (%)|
This power-law dynamic also manifests itself at a global level — and perhaps it’s little surprise that the world’s most profitable companies generate mind-bending returns that would make any accountant blush.
Which Company Makes the Most Per Day?
Today’s infographic comes to us from HowMuch.net, and it uses data from Fortune to illustrate how much profit top global companies actually rake in on a daily basis.
The 20 most profitable companies in the world are listed below in order, and we’ve also broken the same data down per second:
|Rank||Company||Country||Profit per Day||Profit Per Second|
|#1||Saudi Aramco||🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia||$304,039,726||$3,519|
|#2||Apple||🇺🇸 United States||$163,098,630||$1,888|
|#3||Industrial & Commercial Bank of China||🇨🇳 China||$123,293,973||$1,427|
|#4||Samsung Electronics||🇰🇷 South Korea||$109,301,918||$1,265|
|#5||China Construction Bank||🇨🇳 China||$105,475,068||$1,221|
|#6||JPMorgan Chase & Co.||🇺🇸 United States||$88,969,863||$1,030|
|#7||Alphabet||🇺🇸 United States||$84,208,219||$975|
|#8||Agricultural Bank of China||🇨🇳 China||$83,990,411||$972|
|#9||Bank of America Corp.||🇺🇸 United States||$77,115,068||$893|
|#10||Bank of China||🇨🇳 China||$74,589,589||$863|
|#11||Royal Dutch Shell||🇬🇧 🇳🇱 UK/Netherlands||$63,978,082||$740|
|#13||Wells Fargo||🇺🇸 United States||$61,350,685||$710|
|#14||🇺🇸 United States||$60,580,822||$701|
|#15||Intel||🇺🇸 United States||$57,679,452||$668|
|#16||Exxon Mobil||🇺🇸 United States||$57,095,890||$661|
|#17||AT&T||🇺🇸 United States||$53,068,493||$614|
|#18||Citigroup||🇺🇸 United States||$49,438,356||$572|
|#19||Toyota Motor||🇯🇵 Japan||$46,526,027||$538|
|#20||China Development Bank||🇨🇳 China||$45,874,795||$531|
The Saudi Arabian Oil Company, known to most as Saudi Aramco, is by far the world’s most profitable company, raking in a stunning $304 million of profits every day. When translated to a more micro scale, that works out to $3,519 per second.
You’ve likely seen Saudi Aramco in the news lately, though for other reasons.
The giant state-owned company has been rearing to go public at an aggressive $2 trillion valuation, but it’s since delayed that IPO multiple times, most recently stating the listing will take place in December 2019 or January 2020. Company-owned refineries were also the subject of drone attacks last month, which took offline 5.7 million bpd of oil production temporarily.
Despite these challenges, Saudi Aramco still stands pretty tall — after all, such blows are softened when you churn out the same amount of profit as Apple, Alphabet, and Facebook combined.
Numbers on an Annual Basis
Bringing in over $300 million per day of profit is pretty hard to comprehend, but the numbers are even more unfathomable when they are annualized.
|#1||Saudi Aramco||🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia||$110,974,500,000|
|#2||Apple||🇺🇸 United States||$59,531,000,000|
|#3||Industrial & Commercial Bank of China||🇨🇳 China||$45,002,300,000|
|#4||Samsung Electronics||🇰🇷 South Korea||$39,895,200,000|
|#5||China Construction Bank||🇨🇳 China||$38,498,400,000|
|#6||JPMorgan Chase & Co.||🇺🇸 United States||$32,474,000,000|
|#7||Alphabet||🇺🇸 United States||$30,736,000,000|
|#8||Agricultural Bank of China||🇨🇳 China||$30,656,500,000|
|#9||Bank of America Corp.||🇺🇸 United States||$28,147,000,000|
|#10||Bank of China||🇨🇳 China||$27,225,200,000|
|#11||Royal Dutch Shell||🇬🇧 🇳🇱 UK/Netherlands||$23,352,000,000|
|#13||Wells Fargo||🇺🇸 United States||$22,393,000,000|
|#14||🇺🇸 United States||$22,112,000,000|
|#15||Intel||🇺🇸 United States||$21,053,000,000|
|#16||Exxon Mobil||🇺🇸 United States||$20,840,000,000|
|#17||AT&T||🇺🇸 United States||$19,370,000,000|
|#18||Citigroup||🇺🇸 United States||$18,045,000,000|
|#19||Toyota Motor||🇯🇵 Japan||$16,982,000,000|
|#20||China Development Bank||🇨🇳 China||$16,744,300,000|
On an annual basis, Saudi Aramco is raking in $111 billion of profit per year, and that’s with oil prices sitting in the $50-$70 per barrel range.
To put this number in perspective, take a look at Chevron. The American oil giant is one of the 20 biggest companies on the S&P 500, but it generated just $15 billion in profit in 2018 and currently sits at a $221 billion market capitalization.
That puts Chevron’s profits at roughly 10% of Aramco’s — and if Aramco does IPO at a $2 trillion valuation, that would put Chevron at roughly 10% of its market cap, as well.
How the Top Cryptocurrencies Performed in 2021
Cryptocurrencies had a breakout year in 2021, providing plenty of volatility and strong returns across crypto’s various sectors.
The Returns of Top Cryptocurrencies in 2021
2021 saw the crypto markets boom and mature, with different sectors flourishing and largely outperforming the market leader, bitcoin.
While bitcoin only managed to return 59.8% last year, the crypto sector’s total market cap grew by 187.5%, with many of the top coins offering four and even five-digit percentage returns.
2021 Crypto Market Roundup
Last year wasn’t just a breakout year for crypto in terms of returns, but also the growing infrastructure’s maturity and resulting decorrelation of individual crypto industries and coins.
Crypto’s infrastructure has developed significantly, and there are now many more onramps for people to buy altcoins that don’t require purchasing and using bitcoin in the process. As a result, many cryptocurrency prices were more dictated by the value and functionality of their protocol and applications rather than their correlation to bitcoin.
|Ethereum||Smart Contract Platform||399.2%|
|Binance Coin||Exchange Token||1,268.9%|
|Solana||Smart Contract Platform||11,177.8%|
|Cardano||Smart Contract Platform||621.3%|
|Terra||Smart Contract Platform||12,967.3%|
|Avalanche||Smart Contract Platform||3,334.8%|
|Polkadot||Smart Contract Platform||187.9%|
Sources: TradingView, Binance, Uniswap, FTX, Bittrex
Bitcoin wasn’t the only cryptocurrency that didn’t manage to reach triple-digit returns in 2021. Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash also provided meagre double-digit percentage returns, as payment-focused cryptocurrencies were largely ignored for projects with smart contract capabilities.
Other older projects like Stellar Lumens (109%) and XRP (278%) provided triple-digit returns, with Cardano (621%) being the best performer of the old guard despite not managing to ship its smart contract functionality last year.
The Rise of the Ethereum Competitors
Ethereum greatly outpaced bitcoin in 2021, returning 399.2% as the popularity boom of NFTs and creation of DeFi 2.0 protocols like Olympus (OHM) expanded possible use-cases.
But with the rise of network activity, a 50% increase in transfers in 2021, Ethereum gas fees surged. From minimums of $20 for a single transaction, to NFT mint prices starting around $40 and going into the hundreds on congested network days, crypto’s retail crowd migrated to other smart contract platforms with lower fees.
Alternative budding smart contract platforms like Solana (11,178%), Avalanche (3,335%), and Fantom (13,207%) all had 4-5 digit percentage returns, as these protocols built out their own decentralized finance ecosystems and NFT markets.
With Ethereum set to merge onto the beacon chain this year, which uses proof of stake instead of proof of work, we’ll see if 2022 brings lower gas fees and retail’s return to Ethereum if the merge is successful.
Dog Coins Meme their Way to the Top
While many new cryptocurrencies with strong functionality and unique use-cases were rewarded with strong returns, it was memes that powered the greatest returns in cryptocurrencies this past year.
Dogecoin’s surge after Elon Musk’s “adoption” saw many other dog coins follow, with SHIB benefitting the most and returning an astounding 19.85 million percent.
But ever since Dogecoin’s run from $0.07 to a high of $0.74 in Q2 of last year, the original meme coin’s price has slowly bled -77% down to $0.17 at the time of writing. After the roller coaster ride of last year, 2022 started with a positive catalyst for Dogecoin holders as Elon Musk announced DOGE can be used to purchase Tesla merchandise.
Gamifying the Crypto Industry
The intersection between crypto, games, and the metaverse became more than just a pipe dream in 2021. Axie Infinity was the first crypto native game to successfully establish a play to earn structure that combines its native token (AXS) and in-game NFTs, becoming a sensation and source of income for many in the Philippines.
Other crypto gaming projects like Defi Kingdoms are putting recognizable game interfaces on decentralized finance applications, with the decentralized exchange becoming the town’s “marketplace” and yield farms being the “gardens” where yield is harvested. This fantasy aesthetic is more than just a new coat of paint, as the project with $1.04B of total value locked is developing an underlying play-to-earn game.
Along with gamification, 2021 saw crypto native and non-crypto developers put a big emphasis on the digital worlds or metaverses users will inhabit. Facebook’s name change to Meta resulted in the two prominent metaverse projects The Sandbox (SAND) and Decentraland (MANA) surge another few hundred percent to finish off the year at 16,261% and 4,104% returns respectively.
With so many eyes on the crypto sector after the 2021’s breakout year, we’ll see how developing U.S. regulation and changing macro conditions affect cryptocurrencies in 2022.
The Periodic Table of Commodity Returns (2012-2021)
Energy fuels led the way as commodity prices surged in 2021, with only precious metals providing negative returns.
The Periodic Table of Commodity Returns (2022 Edition)
For investors, 2021 was a year in which nearly every asset class finished in the green, with commodities providing some of the best returns.
The S&P Goldman Sachs Commodity Index (GSCI) was the third best-performing asset class in 2021, returning 37.1% and beating out real estate and all major equity indices.
This graphic from U.S. Global Investors tracks individual commodity returns over the past decade, ranking them based on their individual performance each year.
Commodity Prices Surge in 2021
After a strong performance from commodities (metals especially) in the year prior, 2021 was all about energy commodities.
The top three performers for 2021 were energy fuels, with coal providing the single best annual return of any commodity over the past 10 years at 160.6%. According to U.S. Global Investors, coal was also the least volatile commodity of 2021, meaning investors had a smooth ride as the fossil fuel surged in price.
Source: U.S. Global Investors
The only commodities in the red this year were precious metals, which failed to stay positive despite rising inflation across goods and asset prices. Gold and silver had returns of -3.6% and -11.7% respectively, with platinum returning -9.6% and palladium, the worst performing commodity of 2021, at -22.2%.
Aside from the precious metals, every other commodity managed double-digit positive returns, with four commodities (crude oil, coal, aluminum, and wheat) having their best single-year performances of the past decade.
Energy Commodities Outperform as the World Reopens
The partial resumption of travel and the reopening of businesses in 2021 were both powerful catalysts that fueled the price rise of energy commodities.
After crude oil’s dip into negative prices in April 2020, black gold had a strong comeback in 2021 as it returned 55.01% while being the most volatile commodity of the year.
Natural gas prices also rose significantly (46.91%), with the UK and Europe’s natural gas prices rising even more as supply constraints came up against the winter demand surge.
Despite being the second worst performer of 2020 with the clean energy transition on the horizon, coal was 2021’s best commodity.
High electricity demand saw coal return in style, especially in China which accounts for one-third of global coal consumption.
Base Metals Beat out Precious Metals
2021 was a tale of two metals, as precious metals and base metals had opposing returns.
Copper, nickel, zinc, aluminum, and lead, all essential for the clean energy transition, kept up last year’s positive returns as the EV batteries and renewable energy technologies caught investors’ attention.
Demand for these energy metals looks set to continue in 2022, with Tesla having already signed a $1.5 billion deal for 75,000 tonnes of nickel with Talon Metals.
On the other end of the spectrum, precious metals simply sunk like a rock last year.
Investors turned to equities, real estate, and even cryptocurrencies to preserve and grow their investments, rather than the traditionally favorable gold (-3.64%) and silver (-11.72%). Platinum and palladium also lagged behind other commodities, only returning -9.64% and -22.21% respectively.
Grains Bring Steady Gains
In a year of over and underperformers, grains kept up their steady track record and notched their fifth year in a row of positive returns.
Both corn and wheat provided double-digit returns, with corn reaching eight-year highs and wheat reaching prices not seen in over nine years. Overall, these two grains followed 2021’s trend of increasing food prices, as the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s food price index reached a 10-year high, rising by 17.8% over the course of the year.
As inflation across commodities, assets, and consumer goods surged in 2021, investors will now be keeping a sharp eye for a pullback in 2022. We’ll have to wait and see whether or not the Fed’s plans to increase rates and taper asset purchases will manage to provide price stability in commodities.
Misc1 week ago
From Greek to Latin: Visualizing the Evolution of the Alphabet
Best of3 weeks ago
Our Top 21 Visualizations of 2021
Markets2 weeks ago
Prediction Consensus: What the Experts See Coming in 2022
Technology2 weeks ago
Companies Gone Public in 2021: Visualizing IPO Valuations
Technology2 days ago
The 20 Internet Giants That Rule the Web
Misc3 weeks ago
Mapped: Top Trending Searches of 2021 in Every U.S. State
Green3 weeks ago
Mapped: 30 Years of Deforestation and Forest Growth, by Country
Markets2 weeks ago
How Every Asset Class, Currency, and S&P 500 Sector Performed in 2021