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Spread bets and CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 69% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading spread bets and CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how spread bets and CFDs work, and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

Top 10 largest UK companies by market cap

The UK economy offers plenty of opportunities for traders, from large blue chip stocks to penny stocks. Discover the 10 largest companies by market cap in the UK, and how you can trade their share price movements.

HSBC Source: Bloomberg

What are the biggest UK companies by market capitalisation?

Company Sector Market cap1 EPS1 Dividend yield1 ROE1
1 AstreZeneca Pharmaceuticals £169.32 billion 2.15 2.13% 8.62%
2 Shell Oil and gas £161.61 billion 0.75 3.84% 23.35%
3 Linde Oil and gas £141.75 billion 3.57 1.15% 9.87%
4 HSBC Financials £128.40 billion 0.34 5.35% -
5 Unilever Food and tobacco £102.72 billion - 3.68% 42.31%
6 BP Oil and gas £83.71 billion 0.15 4.41% 0.91%%
7 Rio Tinto Mining £81.50 billion 3.53 6.83% 24.34%
8 Diageo Beverages £75.49 billion 163 2.38% 47.81%
9 British American Tobacco Food and tobacco £57.36 billion 181.60 8.96% 9.36%
10 GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals £55.27 billion 7.81 2.26% 27.59%

* Table updated August 2023. Please note the order may change in line with market fluctuations.

All of the largest UK companies are constituents of the FTSE 100 – which tracks the top 100 stocks on the London Stock Exchange.

The UK’s economy is currently the sixth largest in the world – behind the US, China, Japan, Germany and India. The biggest companies in the UK can give you insights into the nation’s economy – including its health and which sectors it’s reliant upon. For example, the top 10 are split between mining, pharmaceuticals, non-cyclical consumer goods and financials.

This table was updated on 25 November 2020. Please note, the order may change in line with stock market fluctuations.

How to trade the largest companies in the UK

Here’s how to start trading the largest companies in the UK:

  1. Learn more about the largest companies
  2. Discover how to buy and trade stocks
  3. Open an account with us
  4. Place and monitor your first trade

You can take a position on the largest companies in the UK using CFDs or spread bets. As they’re derivatives, you can speculate on any underlying price movements without taking ownership of the shares. So, you can take a position on prices rising and falling market prices – known as going long and short.

Alternatively, you can buy and take ownership of these stocks via a share dealing account. This makes you eligible for voting rights and to receive dividends if the company grants them.

Learn about the best dividend paying stocks in the UK

To find out more about the companies on our list, click the names on the list below:

AstraZeneca (£169.32 billion)

Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca was formed in 1999 after the merger between Astra AB and Zeneca Group. Since then, it has remained one of the largest pharma companies in the world and it was at the forefront of the drive to develop a Covid-19 vaccine.

Their most recent earnings report revealed an EPS of $2.15 up from $1.72 on a year-over-year basis. The company’s pre-tax profits of $4029 billion also saw an increase compared to the same period 12 months ago when they were $3142 billion. Despite the stock price having fallen slightly since the beginning of the year, the share is currently in a buy position, where analysts estimate a potential 7.9% uptick from its current price.1

Trade AstraZeneca shares

Shell (£161.61 billion)

Shell is a leading energy company which operates across 6 continents. Founded in 1907, the British company offers a range of products including chemicals, natural gas and oil. They also generate electricity using sustainable methods such as wind and solar energy, which contribute to the company’s goals of reaching net zero by 2050.

Their most recent Q2 reported an EPS of $0.75, down from $1.53 for the same quarter 12 months ago. Despite this, the share is currently in a buy position with analysts anticipating a possible 33% upside from its current price.1

Trade Shell shares

Linde (£141.75 billion)

Linde is one of the largest gas and engineering companies in the world. Founded in 2018, the company aims to provide high-quality, sustainable solutions to increase productivity in a wide range of markets including healthcare, food and beverages, mining and metals and electronics.

Analyst estimates have places the stock in a buy position as they anticipate a potential uptick of 11%. Their most recent earnings report revealed an EPS of $3.57, exceeding analysis expectations of $3.47. Despite this, their quarterly revenue saw a decrease of 3.5% on a year-over-year basis.1

Trade Linde shares

HSBC Holdings (£128.40 billion)

HSBC is one of the largest banking and financial services institutions in the world – serving more than 39 million customers in 66 countries.

The company’s most recent earnings report announced an EPS of £0.34 up from £0.19 from the same quarter back in 2022. Despite some volatility following the banking crisis earlier this year, the stock seems to have recovered where analyst estimates have places the stock in a buy position as they anticipate a potential increase of 28%.1

Trade HSBC Holdings shares

Unilever (£113.85 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.

Despite seeing a 3.4% increase since the beginning of the year, analyst estimates have placed the stock in a hold position. Revenue for the last quarter is down 0.84% on a year-over-year basis and this decrease is expected to continue into the next earnings report.1

Trade Unilever shares

BP (£83.71 billion)

BP is a hugely successful oil and gas company, dating back to 1909. BP now has operations in five continents and produces more than 3.8 million barrels of oil per day.2 As the demand for energy changes and increases, BP aims to build its infrastructure to meet these needs.

The company’s most recent earnings report revealed an EPS of $0.15 down from $0.43 compared to the same time last year. Their pre-tax profits of $4291 billion were also down from $13,257 billion for the same quarter back in 2022. Despite this, analyst estimates have placed the stock in a buy position as they anticipate BP shares to increase by 44%.1

Trade BP shares

Rio Tinto (£81.50 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, the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) and the NYSE – all under the RIO ticker.

Analyst estimates have placed the company’s shares in a hold position, and their most recent Q2 reported an EPS of $3.53 down from $5.30 on a year-over-year basis. Their revenue of $26,667 billion also saw a decrease compared to the same quarter 12 months ago where it was $29,775. 1

Trade Rio Tinto shares

Diageo (£67.89 billion)

Diageo (DGE) 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%).

The company’s most recent earnings report revealed an EPS of $163, up from $151.40 on a year-over-year basis. Their revenue of $17,113 also increased from $15,425 for the same quarter in 2022. Despite falling since the beginning of the year, analysts anticipate a potential uptick of 11% and have placed the stock in a buy position as a result.1

Trade Diageo shares

British American Tobacco (£57.36 billion)

Founded in 1902, British American Tobacco (BAT) has changed significantly over the past 100 years. The company's focus has shifted to creating reduced-risk products using new technology and sustainable practices. BAT is the largest tobacco manufacturer in the world in terms of net sales,2 delivering its products to more than 180 countries.

The company has recently reported a revenue of £5406 billion up 5% compared to the same time last year. Their EPS of £181.60 also saw an increase on a year-over-year basis, and lower expenses have resulted in a profit margin of 29%, up from 14% the year before. On average, analyst estimates place the stock in a buy position.1

Trade British American Tobacco shares

GlaxoSmithKline (£55.27 billion)

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is a science-led global health company, which researches, develops and manufactures pharmaceutical medicines, vaccines and healthcare products. It was established in 1715, although it didn’t exist in its current form until 2000, following the merger of four major pharmaceutical companies.

The company’s most recent earnings report has revealed an EPS of $7.18 up from $7.04 on a year-on-year basis. Their revenue of $7617 also increased from $7451 in the same quarter 12 months ago. Analyst estimates currently place the stock in a hold position with a potential upside of 1%.1

Trade GlaxoSmithKline shares

Footnotes

1 Please note all analysis on stock performance is taken from analysts on Refinitiv Eikon
2 BP, 2023


This information has been prepared by IG, a trading name of IG Markets Limited. In addition to the disclaimer below, the material on this page does not contain a record of our trading prices, or an offer of, or solicitation for, a transaction in any financial instrument. IG accepts no responsibility for any use that may be made of these comments and for any consequences that result. No representation or warranty is given as to the accuracy or completeness of this information. Consequently any person acting on it does so entirely at their own risk. Any research provided does not have regard to the specific investment objectives, financial situation and needs of any specific person who may receive it. It has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research and as such is considered to be a marketing communication. Although we are not specifically constrained from dealing ahead of our recommendations we do not seek to take advantage of them before they are provided to our clients. See full non-independent research disclaimer and quarterly summary.

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