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 companies with the largest market capitalisations in the UK and find out how you can trade 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 make-up of the UK’s economy, which is the fifth 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.
(8 May 2020)
|Share price movement
May 2019 to May 2020
|1||AstraZeneca||£112.3 billion||£24.3 billion||$2.9 billion||45.3%|
|2||Unilever||£106.8 billion||€52.0 billion||€8.7 billion||-11.4%|
|3||Royal Dutch Shell||£100.9 billion||$344.9 billion||$21.3 billion||-49.7%|
|4||HSBC Holdings||£84.0 billion||$55.4 billion||$22.2 billion||-39.4%|
|5||GlaxoSmithKline||£84.0 billion||£33.7 billion||£6.9 billion||3.2%|
|6||BHP Group||£69.6 billion||$44.2 billion||$16.1 billion||-28.2%|
|7||British American||£68.2 billion||£25.8 billion||£9.0 billion||0.6%|
|8||Diageo||£64.9 billion||£12.8 billion||£4.0 billion||-14.4 %|
|9||Reckitt Benckiser Group||£63.9 billion||$282.6 billion||$11.7 billion||-45.8%|
|10||Rio Tinto||£62.2 billion||$43.1 billion||$11.4 billion||-18.5%|
This table was updated on 8 May 2020, but the order changes regularly in line with normal stock market fluctuations. To find out more about one of the companies on our list, click its name in the list below:
AstraZeneca (£112.3 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 reported stronger revenue and profits at the start of FY20, attributing its success to its robust supply chain. Share prices have also seen a sharp spike since March 2020, following the announcement of a possible treatment for COVID-19.
Unilever (£106.8 billion)
Unilever has been a household brand since 1929, when it was founded through the merger of soap maker Lever Brothers and margarine company Margarine Unie. It is a multi-layered business with more than 400 brands, including food, home and personal care products.
Unilever’s share price has been on an upward trajectory over the past five years, as consumption of its products increased. However, first-quarter (Q1) results (2020) indicated poor sales figures, while the business has been adjusting to the global supply-demand tensions.
Royal Dutch Shell (£100.2 billion)
Royal Dutch Shell was founded in 1907 through the merger of the Royal Dutch Petroleum company and Shell Transport and Trading Company Limited. The stock has been a favourite among investors, who have been receiving favourable dividend payments for many years.
Shell is the largest purchaser of its own shares on the FTSE 100, but since the COVID-19 outbreak, it has opted to pause the share buyback programme. The company’s 2019 revenue was higher than any other company on this list but the future of its share price will depend on oil, which has faced supply and demand disruptions so this year.
HSBC Holdings (£84.0 billion)
Founded in 1865, financial services and banking corporation HSBC serves more than 39 million customers in 66 countries around the world. Banks' shares have suffered during the pandemic, but HSBC's global reach may mean its geared for quicker growth and recovery than its rivals.
While 2019 profit was down, revenue was up 5.9% from the previous year. Like Shell, HSBC also plans to suspend share buybacks for 2020 and 2021, given the restructuring plans that are in place for the next two years.
GlaxoSmithKline (£84.0 billion)
GlaxoSmithKline, GSK for short, is a science-led global health company established in 2000 following the merger of four major pharmaceutical companies. 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.
GSK remains a popular choice for investors. By the end of 2019, it had paid more than £3.9 billion in dividends. It is also one of the companies that have seen positive results despite the coronavirus crisis. First quarter results for 2020 showed a 19% jump in sales, as well as growth across all its businesses.
BHP Group (£69.6 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 sixth largest company by market cap in the UK, it was also ranked the largest mining company in the world in 2017.2 Its business includes extracting and processing minerals, oil and gas.
Most 2019 figures were up and investors received more than $3.9 billion in dividend payments at the end of the year. At the start of 2020, demand for commodities has remained stable, despite COVID-induced economic uncertainty. Like other mining companies, BHP expects steady recovery and continued growth.
British American Tobacco (£68.2 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.
Though profits for the last financial year saw a decline following slightly lower sales volumes, BAT predicts solid earnings for 2020. It said that it would be sticking to its dividend policy, and investors received an increased dividend payment of 210.4p per share at the end of 2019.
Diageo (£64.9 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. Its biggest revenue producers are scotch (25%) and beer (16%).
Diageo has not been exempt from the effects of the global coronavirus pandemic. Sales of its products were down as strict lockdown rules were enforced – and this could have an impact on earnings far beyond 2020. The most recent earnings figure is £12.8 billion, a 1.6% increase from 2018.
BP (£63.9 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. At the end of the 2019 financial year, BP reported $282.6 billion in revenue and $11.7 billion in profit. However, the company has struggled so far this year, with global demand for oil falling as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Rio Tinto (£62.2 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 LSE, ASX as well as the NYSE.
Shareholders received favourable returns in 2018, after the business returned £10.8 billion in cash to its investors. Other key figures also looked promising with a £3.3 billion reduction in debt and £6.8 billion made from various divestments. Rio Tinto’s profits were $11.4 billion in 2019.
How to trade the largest companies in the UK
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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