Some may argue that evaluating a company based on its total assets or revenue is a more reliable way to gauge the value of a company, after all, aren’t assets and revenue pretty straight forward? However, when calculating the estimated worth of a large, multi-billion dollar company, calculating the total value of a company with these numbers is more difficult than judging a company’s value based upon a stock share.
Market capitalization or the total value of all outstanding shares of a company can be calculated from the share price of the stock and then multiplied by the number of shares of the stock issued to investors. By representing the total value of all investment in the company, a relatively accurate idea of the company’s overall value emerges. In order to base value on market capitalization however, a company must be publicly traded. While there are some companies in the world worth far more than the companies on this list, they are all privately or state held. The companies on this list are the 10 publicly traded companies with the highest market capitalization in the world.
10 Berkshire Hathaway Inc.: $227 billion
Based in Omaha, Nebraska, Berkshire Hathaway is a company that predominantly owns and oversees the operations of other companies. Some examples of the companies Berkshire Hathaway operates are GEICO, Dairy Queen and Fruit of the Loom, among others. Berkshire Hathaway also owns 50% percent of Heinz and has a sizable stake in American Express, Coca-Cola, IBM and Wells Fargo. Perhaps best know however as the company Warren Buffet controls, acting as chairman, president, and CEO, Berkshire Hathaway’s shares hit $200,000 a piece this past August for the first time ever, and the company has seen its growth maintain at about 20% annually. With a market capitalization of $227 billion and revenue over $180 billion in 2013, the Forbes Global 2000 produced by Forbes magazine ranks Berkshire Hathaway as the fifth largest public company on the planet.
9 Walmart: $246.8 billion
No surprise to see Walmart on this list, the multinational company founded by Sam Walton in 1962 and first publicly listed on the NYSE a decade later, Walmart has grown to become the world’s largest company based on revenue alone, already making over $475 billion in 2014. Furthermore, Walmart is the largest retail chain on the planet, and, with over two million employees, Walmart is also the largest private sector employer in the world. Still owned by the Walton family today, shares for the company are valued at around $76, and are increasing, contributing to its market capitalization of nearly $250 billion in 2014.
8 General Electric: $257.2 billion
The 26th largest company in America as per Fortune 500, and the fourth largest as per The Forbes 2000, General Electric has been a household name for over a century. The only remaining company of the original 12 that were initially listed on the Dow Jones Industrial Average to still be publicly traded on the Dow nearly 120 years later. General Electric boasts revenue of $146 billion and total assets of over $650 billion to go along with its market capitalization of $257 billion. Though both revenue and assets were down in 2013, General Electric has long been considered one of the most innovative companies in the world, making their return from the red to the green likely in the future.
7 Hoffmann-La Roche: $258.5 billion
A pharmaceutical company from Switzerland, Hoffmann-La Roche boasts two divisions in the healthcare field, focusing on both pharmaceutical research and diagnostic research. The fifth largest pharmaceutical company in the world, Hoffmann-La Roche is truly global with locations all over Europe, North and South America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Hoffmann-La Roche also own the subsidiary companies Genentech, Chugai Pharmaceuticals and Ventana further contributing to its wealth. With a market capitalization that has grown by nearly $16 billion since last year, Hoffmann-La Roche continues to grow within the pharmaceutical industry.
6 Wells Fargo: $261.2 billion
One of the “Big Four” banks in the United States, Wells Fargo has financial dealings in 35 different countries across the globe, with nearly 70 million clients utilizing 10,000 institutions annually. As of 2013, Wells Fargo became the largest bank in the world based on market capitalization alone, while still maintaining its position as the fourth largest bank in the U.S. based on total assets. With a market capitalization of $261.2 billion to go along with profit of $21 billion in 2013, as well as total assets eclipsing $1.5 trillion, Wells Fargo is a monolithic financial institution that has solidified its place amongst the top banks in the world in the post-2008 financial crisis market place.
5 Johnson & Johnson: $302 billion
Founded in 1886, Johnson and Johnson have a stake in nearly every facet of pharmaceutical, diagnostic and consumer products on the market today. The maker of massive consumer brands like Tylenol, Band-Aid, Neutrogena Skin Care, Acuvue contact lenses, Clean and Clear and the eponymous Johnson & Johnson baby products, the company also has a highly developed pharmaceutical section which has developed drugs to treat tuberculosis, Crohn’s disease and Colitis. In fact, the pharmaceutical wing of Johnson & Johnson accounted for nearly 30% of the company’s total $71.3 billion in revenue. Based on trading at $107.10 a share, Johnson & Johnson’s market capitalization exceeded the $300 billion mark in the third quarter, no doubt much to the delight of shareholders.
4 Microsoft: $382.4 billion
The computer software and technology giant Microsoft undoubtedly had a place on this list; the fact that it is fourth may come as a small surprise, but that’s a hazard of the market Microsoft is involved in. The highly competitive technology market has been kind to Microsoft over the years. Founded in 1972 by Bill Gates, after the company’s IPO in 1986, Microsoft boasted three billionaires and thousands of millionaires amongst its employees. An innovator in the field of personal computers, Microsoft has created a long list of operating systems for PC’s that billions use to this day. As the company diversified into the home gaming and smart phone realms, the company met both success and failure, but still reported total revenue of over $88 billion and total assets of $172.38 billion this year. With a market capitalization of $382.4 billion Microsoft is a staple in the market.
3 Google: $390.3 billion
After trading on the market for a mere decade, with the IPO coming six years after being founded, Google really did come out of nowhere to essentially monopolize the Internet. A search engine turned multinational conglomerate, with all of the other technology Google has a stake in, including Gmail, Google +, Android smart phones and Youtube, it is hard to believe Google still makes much of its revenue on AdWords. With revenue up almost $10 billion from 2012 to 2013 though, it doesn’t really make a difference where the money comes from for Google, as total assets eclipsed $110 billion last year as well. With a market capitalization now sitting at $390.3 billion, Google is poised to continue to ascend in the market.
2 Exxon Mobil: $407 billion
The largest publicly traded oil and gas company in the world, producing 3% of all the world’s oil, Irving Texas’s Exxon Mobil has had its fair share of criticism levied upon it due to its many controversial oil spills, business practices, and the nature of the oil business in general. Despite all of this, the company is remarkably wealthy and profitable, claiming the title of world's most profitable company with revenues of $491 billion in 2013. When coupled with total assets of $346 billion and a market capitalization of $407 billion, Exxon Mobil is one of the largest, most profitable and most powerful companies in the world.
1 Apple Inc: $603.3 billion
Of course, Apple is number one of this list. Was there any doubt? Billions adore the great innovator in computer and mobile device technology, the Apple brand. Even if the device being launched is underwhelming, people line up in droves to be the first to purchase it. The iPhone 6 is a great example of the brand loyalty that Apple has been able to cultivate. Apple customers are loyal, and this loyalty has done the company wonders for revenue. Second only to Samsung in total revenue for a technology company, Apple is also the most valuable brand in the world. With revenues of $170 billion last year, and total assets reaching $207 billion, Apple’s market capitalization of $603.3 billion is truly remarkable, making it by far the largest company by market capitalization in the world.