What are the world’s trillion-dollar companies and which is next?
The last couple of years have seen a flurry of companies surpass $1 trillion in value. Here we examine how many trillion-dollar companies there are in the world today, and which are likely to join the four-comma club next.
What was the first trillion-dollar company?
The first trillion-dollar company was Apple, which hit that level on 4 August 2018. Since then, four other stocks have joined the four-comma club – Amazon, Microsoft, Saudi Aramco and Alphabet – and the race to be the next member is on.
Some claim that another stock hit the trillion-dollar mark over a decade before Apple. PetroChina’s market cap reached $1.194 trillion on the day of its intial public offering (IPO), all the way back in November 2007. However, that value was only based on a fraction of its shares and the company sank soon after. By the end of 2008, its market cap had dropped to $260 billion.
List of the world’s trillion-dollar companies
|Date $1 trillion valuation first achieved||Market capitalisation*|
|Apple Inc||4 August 2018||$1.37 trillion|
|Amazon||4 September 2018||$1.04 trillion|
|Microsoft||7 June 2019||$1.36 trillion|
|Saudi Aramco||11 December 2019||$1.81 trillion|
|Alphabet||16 January 2020||$1.02 trillion|
* As of 24 February 2020
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Few were surprised that Apple became the first company to hit $1 trillion. By 2018, it had already been the world’s most valuable listed business for several years.
But it didn’t stay above the $1 trillion level for long, and by the end of the year Apple had sunk below $800 billion thanks to a slump in the US stock market. The stock rallied in 2019, though, and the company surpassed $1.3 trillion in December.
To put that figure into context, Apple’s market cap is only slightly below the total gross domestic product (GDP) of Australia ($1.4 trillion), and above that of Mexico ($1.2 trillion).
Amazon hit $1 trillion a month to the day after Apple — and was also then badly affected by the 2018 market slump. But it took the eCommerce giant far longer to recover. Amazon only returned to the four-comma club in January 2020, after it exceeded analyst expectations with its earnings and revealed that it had 150 million members of its Prime subscription service.
Those results pushed Amazon back above $1 trillion in value, and helped its chief executive officer (CEO) Jeff Bezos cement his position as the world’s richest person. His net worth is now around $125 billion.
By the end of 2018, Microsoft had overtaken its long-standing rival Apple to become the world’s most valuable company – a position it remained in for most of 2019. Both companies had an incredible year, adding a combined $950 billion to their market caps.
It took until midway through the year for Microsoft to become the third company in the world valued at more than $1 trillion dollars. Azure, the business’s cloud computing division, fuelled much of its growth.
The world’s most profitable company broke the trillion-dollar barrier on its very first day of trading, in an IPO that was much hyped by analysts and commentators.
It didn’t disappoint. At the end of its first day, the company hit a value of $1.88 trillion – making it by far the biggest IPO in history and Saudi Aramco the fourth business with a valuation north of a trillion dollars.
The very next day, Saudi Aramco broke another record. Its stock surged again to give the company a market cap above $2 trillion.
Saudi Aramco is the only company in the four-comma club with a listing outside the US. It’s currently traded on the Saudi Stock Exchange, which makes its shares next to impossible to trade for non-institutional investors.
In January 2020, Alphabet became the fourth US tech stock to join the four-comma club. Shortly afterwards, Amazon regained its one-trillion-dollar market cap – meaning that four US tech stocks were at that level concurrently for the first time.
At the end of January, the combined value of Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Alphabet was over $4.5 trillion.
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Which companies could hit a trillion dollars next?
|Market capitalisation (24 Feb 2020)||% below $1 trillion|
|Berkshire Hathaway||$560 billion||44%|
Back when Apple hit $1 trillion for the first time, Amazon, Microsoft, Saudi Aramco and Alphabet weren’t too far off. Amazon was just 10.5% below that figure, with Alphabet on 14% and Microsoft on 17%. Saudi Aramco was private but widely expected to list at above $1 trillion dollars.
Fast forward to today, and the next biggest companies in the world remain some distance behind Apple and co. So, will there be any new trillion-dollar businesses any time soon? Here’s a rundown of the stocks in prime position.
Facebook is the only member of the ‘big five’ tech giants not to have surpassed $1 trillion in value. But it is the next-largest US public company, and one many expect to join the four-comma club in the future.
Facebook’s market cap has never even reached $700 billion before, so the company will need a fair amount of growth if it’s going to make it. But the stock went on an impressive bull run in 2019, adding more than $200 billion to the company’s total value. If it continues that performance for the next few years, Facebook investors can expect to see it hit $1 trillion.
Warren Buffett’s conglomerate climbed far more steadily than Facebook in 2019, posting a return of around 11%. The company has been called the ‘tortoise’ in the race to be the next trillion-dollar company thanks to its slower, less volatile growth when compared to tech rivals.
That doesn’t mean you should write off Berkshire Hathaway, though. Facebook and Visa’s volatility could well see them drop out of the race, leaving Berkshire Hathaway in the lead.
Another incredible performer in 2019, Visa is now one of the most valuable public companies on the planet. And some believe it could be next to join the elite group of trillion-dollar companies.
The company grew 50% in value over 2019 and could hit a trillion in 2023 if it carries on along its three-year trend. Visa and its rival, Mastercard, have soared off the back of growth in cashless payments, thanks in part to the rise of online shopping. As a result, Visa has been catching up to Facebook in recent years.
Facebook, Berkshire Hathaway and Visa might be in the lead, but that doesn’t mean they’ll definitely win the race to become the newest trillion-dollar businesses. If you’re ready to take a position on who’ll join the four-comma club next, open a CFD or spread betting account now.
Trillion-dollar companies summed up
- Apple was the first company to surpass a value of $1 trillion. It first did so on 4 August 2018
- Four other companies have passed that value since: Amazon, Microsoft, Saudi Aramco and Alphabet
- The gap between these companies and the competitors directly beneath them is significant. But Facebook, Berkshire Hathaway and Visa could become trillion-dollar companies in the next few years
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