Top 10 largest UK companies by market cap
The health and size of the UK economy offers plenty of opportunities for traders. Discover the 10 largest companies in the UK and find out how you can take advantage of share price movements with IG.
What are the biggest UK companies by market capitalisation?
The list of the biggest companies in the UK gives insight into the makeup of the UK’s economy, which is the seventh largest economy in the world. Many of the largest companies by market cap are also major components of the FTSE 100. With IG, you can gain access to the biggest companies in the UK by trading or investing in their shares.
(15 July 2019)
|Share price movement
June 2018 to June 2019
|1||HSBC Holdings||£134 billion||£88.7 billion||£15 billion||-7.6%|
|2||Unilever||£132.9 billion||£51 billion||£9.8 billion||16.2%|
|3||BP||£110.8 billion||£303.3 billion||£9.6 billion||-5.1%|
|4||BHP||£108.7 billion||£43.6 billion||£7.1 billion||21.5%|
|5||AstraZeneca||£82.6 billion||£22.1 billion||£2.1 billion||21.6%|
|6||Rio Tinto||£81.6 billion||£40.5 billion||£13.8 billion||16.2%|
|7||GlaxoSmithKline||£81 billion||£30.8 billion||£4 billion||4.9%|
|8||Diageo||£80.4 billion||£12.2 billion||£3.1 billion||21.1%|
|9||British American Tobacco||£66.7 billion||£24.5 billion||£6.2 billion||-33.7%|
|10||Reckitt Benckiser Group||£46.8 billion||£12.6 billion||£2.2 billion||0.6%|
This table was updated on 15 July 2019 but the order changes regularly in line with normal stock market fluctuations. Find out more about one of the companies on our list, click its name in the list below:1
HSBC Holdings (£134 billion)
HSBC Holdings is the biggest company in the UK by market cap. Founded in 1865, this financial services and banking corporation serves more than 39 million customers in 66 countries around the world.
Though it has a strong standing in terms of market capitalisation, a weaker global economic outlook may bear bad news for the business as Brexit and trade tensions continue to affect the group’s profits. HSBC missed its 2018 profit prediction by more than $2 billion and revenues also dropped significantly due to these tumultuous economic events.
Unilever (£132.9 billion)
Unilever has been a household brand since 1929, when it was founded through the merger of soap makers Lever Brothers and margarine company Margarine Unie. It is a multi-layered business with more than 400 brands, including food products, home care and personal care.
Investors can be pleased with dividend payments, which rose from 122p in 2017, to 285p in 2018. The outlook for 2019 remains positive after first quarter results reported strong growth, with sales rising by more than 3% despite recent price increases. Unilever’s share price has been on an upward trajectory over the past five years, as consumption of its products increased.
BP (£110.8 billion)
BP, short for British Petroleum, is a hugely successful oil and gas company, dating back to 1909. BP now has operations in five continents, and produces more than 3.7 million barrels of oil a day.
As the demand for energy changes and increases, BP aims to build its infrastructure to meet these needs. This includes growing existing markets, finding new resources and reducing emissions caused by its operations.
BHP (£108.7 billion)
BHP, a major mining company headquartered in Australia, was founded in 1860 and now operates in more than 90 countries. Not only is it the fourth largest company by market cap in the UK, it was also ranked the largest mining company in the world in 2017.2
BHP is listed on four major exchanges, including the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) and the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Its business includes extracting and processing, minerals, oil and gas. FY2018 saw a 33% rise in profit from, a near £4 billion reduction in debt and dividend payments of more than £5 billion. The positive results were attributed to higher commodity prices and the strong operational performance of the group.
AstraZeneca (£82.6 billion)
Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca was formed in 1999 after the merger between Astra AB and Zeneca Group. Since the amalgamation, it has remained one of the largest pharma companies not only in the UK, but in the world. Its focus areas include oncology, respiratory health, neuroscience and cardiovascular health.
AstraZeneca’s financial performance started to decline in 2011 due to lower product sales. Revenue dropped from £26.4 billion in 2011 to £17.6 billion in 2018. However, the company believes that its strategy is working, and it is confident that lower revenue will not affect dividends.
Rio Tinto (£81.6 billion)
Rio Tinto is a mining company based in London, with operations in Spain. It was founded in 1873 and has since undergone many changes by means of several mergers and acquisitions. Rio Tinto is listed on three exchanges – the London Stock Exchange (LSE), ASX as well as the NYSE.
Shareholders received favourable returns in 2018, after the business returned £10.8 million in cash to its investors. Other key figures also looked promising with a £3.3 million reduction in debt and £6.8 million made from various divestments.
GlaxoSmithKline (£81 billion)
GlaxoSmithKline, GSK for short, is a science-led global health company established in December 2000 following the merger of four major pharmaceutical companies. In 2018, it paid £3.2 billion in dividends and first quarter results for 2019 were positive, with £4.2 billion in pharmaceutical sales.
Nearly £4 billion was invested in research and development in 2018, and areas of focus include various prescription medications, vaccines, as well as general health products such as toothpaste and multivitamins.
Diageo (£80.4 billion)
Diageo is an alcoholic beverage company, formed in London in 1997. It has more than 200 brands, including Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker and Guinness, which it sells in 180 countries around the world. Between 2000 and 2002, Diageo sold Burger King and Pillsbury. Its biggest revenue producers are scotch (25%) and beer (16%).
From 2017 to 2018, net sales were up by 0.9%, operating profit went up by 3.7%, and shareholder dividends increased by 5%.
British American Tobacco (£66.7 billion)
Founded in 1902, British American Tobacco (BAT) has changed significantly over the past 100 years. Its focus has shifted to creating reduced-risk products using new technology and sustainable practices. It is the second-largest tobacco manufacturer in the world, delivering its products to more than 180 countries.
A consistent demand encouraged a steady climb for the stock, which reached £56.43 on 6 June 2017. However, the share price started declining soon after, which some say is due to the increasing popularity of e-cigarettes.
Reckitt Benckiser Group (£46.8 billion)
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB Group) was established in 1999 after a merger between an industrial chemical business and household product company. It operates in nearly 200 countries and offers several health and hygiene products.
In 2018, the group’s revenue increased by 18%, and the share price rose from £60.13 in December 2018 to £62.27 by the end of June 2019 due to a rise in sales.
How to trade the largest companies in the UK
You can trade the largest companies in the UK using leverage when you open a CFD trading account.
Here’s how to start trading the largest companies in the UK:
- Learn more about the markets: IG Academy has range of courses to get your started, including one on creating a trading plan
- Open an IG account: opening an account online is quick and easy. With IG, it only takes five minutes and you can do it via your smartphone or PC
- Place and monitor your first trade: when you know which stocks you want to take a position on, place your trade and then keep a close eye on the market
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