The table below lists the historical market caps of the largest public U.S. companies. Currently (12/31/2019), the most valuable public company is Apple Inc with a market cap of $1,304,756.25 million, followed by Microsoft Corp ($1,203,881.80 M) and Alphabet Inc. ($925,392.59 M).
For the latest & full historical data, check the historical datasets provided by Siblis Research.
Market Caps of The Largest US Companies (USD, M)
The outstanding common shares are taken from the SEC quarterly (10-Q/K) reports of the companies. This number is not fixed but keeps fluctuating when public firms are issuing more, buying back and sometimes splitting their shares. For majority of the companies, one of the quarters will end on 31st Dec. But some companies are using a fiscal year that differs from a calendar year and they might not have a quarter that ends on December. For these firms, the outstanding shares are taken from a quarter that ends on October or November.
Different Stock Blasses & Market Capitalization
Many companies have different types of common stock (note: preferred stock means a security that is a mixture of debt and common stock and is not considered as a separate share class). The most common reason for multiple share classes is to restrict the voting power of some share classes. This is especially common with high-tech companies whose founders want to enjoy the benefits of going public but still maintain full control of their companies. A good example of this is Alphabet (Google) that has two publicly traded share lines, A (GOOGL) and C (GOOG), and also B-class that is not publicly traded. A has one, B has ten and C has no votes. These shares with more votes are usually traded at slightly higher price, although it is very hard to define what is the exact monetary value of having more voting power.
When market cap is calculated, all of the common share classes need to be taken account. The common practice is to combine the number of outstanding shares of all classes and use the price of the share class with the largest trading volume. Alternative method is to calculate the market cap of all the share lines separately and then summing up the value.
For the companies with multiple share lines, the different classes are combined as one figure on the table below.
Note about Alphabet/Google: Before the year 2014, the B-class shares are combined with A-class and the price of A-line is used as the price. From 2014 onwards, B-class is no more combined with A-class and these shares are not taken account when calculating the market value for the company.
The Top US Corporations in 2016
At the beginning of this year, the top ten list of most valuable companies is dominated by technology. The combined value of the 10 largest companies is pretty much the same as it was a at the beginning of 2015. The biggest winner during the 2015 was Amazon.com that has jumped as the fifth most valuable firm. One of the biggest losers was Walmart whose value was decreasing almost $100 billion last year.
The rise of Apple has been phenomenal. At the end of 2008, Apple was valued at $75,998 million but february 2015 the company’s market cap exceeded $700 billion. Apple’s value has been decreasing since July 2015 and was $586 859,3 million at the beginning of 2016 but the company is still the most valuable corporation in US.
Once clearly the largest US corporation, ExxonMobil’s market cap has been stagnant for the past ten years. At the end of 2015, the company was valued at $324 501 million, much less than a year ago. The cheap oil price is likely to cause problems for the company also in the future.
Microsoft has been able to recover from the sharp decrease of its valuation during 2008 and was the second largest US company on 12/31/2015. But Microsoft’s current value is still far away from its historical peak value during the dot-com boom: on Dec 27th 1999 the company was valued at $612,487 million.
Market Cap & Market Value of a Firm
Market capitalization of a company means the market value of all of the company’s shares during a certain point of time. The market cap can be seen as a public opinion of what is the monetary value of a public corporation. It is commonly used to rank companies by their sizes. Calculating the market cap is not always straight forward. A company can have multiple share classes trading with different prices and also some share lines that are not publicly traded but hold by e.g. the founders of a company. There are also other metrics used to give a value for a corporation. Enterprise value takes account also the outstanding debt and preferred stock.