Despite another year of relentless volatility stemming from a global pandemic and enhanced by international armed conflict, and supply chain issues, US companies managed to continue growing.
The 20th annual Forbes Global 2000 list ranks the world’s largest public companies with composite scores of market value, sales, profits and assets captured during the 12 months ended April 22. After ballooning growth in 2021, America’s top 10 public companies experienced more humble progress this year. The group’s combined market value remained almost flat, rising by 3% to $9.9 trillion; they recorded combined sales exceeding $2.3 trillion (up 4% from last year), and assets at roughly $12.3 trillion (down 7%). This, while profits soared by more than 61% to over $509 billion.
Omaha-based Berkshire Hathaway saw similar remarkable profit growth which helped boost it to the top spot on this year’s Forbes Global 2000 list. Billionaire partners Warren Buffett, 91, and Charlie Munger, 98, produced nearly $90 billion in profits last year, up 53% from the previous year. Berkshire reported a record $27.5 billion in after-tax operating profits to help push it to the top spot over Jamie Dimon’s JPMorgan Chase.
During the investing and insurance conglomerate’s yearly shareholder’s meeting last month, Buffett expressed optimism and resilience despite daunting market prospects and rising inflation. “If you do something valuable and good for society, it doesn’t matter what the US dollar does,” Buffett said. “Sometimes markets do crazy things. That’s good for Berkshire, not because we’re smart, but because we’re sane.”
Berkshire Hathaway dethroned JPMorgan Chase as the largest American public company, a position the investment bank held onto for three consecutive years. JPMorgan now ranks second among US companies and #4 in the Global 2000 list, falling behind ICBC and Saudi Aramco. The bank’s stock fell 15% in the year leading to April 22, when it closed at $126.81, underperforming compared to the S&P 500’s modest 2% growth in that same period.
Amazon rose to the third spot in the US list, rallying from No. 5 last year and No. 13 the year before. The Seattle-based giant maintained persistent growth as online shopping continues to boom. Sales shot up 22% in the last year to around $470 billion, despite the higher prices and interest rates threatening consumers, keeping the company at No. 2 worldwide in terms of sales. Amazon’s streak is unlikely to stop soon: sales growth in its top categories — including home furnishings, beauty and hobby products — is expected by eMarketer to outpace competitors.
Apple, Bank of America, Alphabet, Microsoft and Wells Fargo remained among the 10 largest public companies in America. Retail giant Walmart fell from No. 9 to No. 13 but held onto the top rank in sales worldwide, and Citigroup tumbled from No. 8 to No. 15. Their replacements? Oil and gas producer ExxonMobil boomeranged after a steep decline during the pandemic, and wireless network operator Verizon’s consistent growth boosted it to the No. 10 spot.
After plunging to No. 133 last year as it convalesced following the fall in oil prices in the early days of the pandemic, ExxonMobil, the largest oil producer in the US, secured the eighth position in this year’s US ranking. Sky-high energy prices boosted the behemoth’s recovery, rising 66% to $102 a barrel (WTI) on April 22. ExxonMobil sales rose 57% year over year to over $28 billion, and 2021 losses of over $22 billion were mended by profits of some $23 billion this year.
Telecommunications conglomerate AT&T suffered a similar fate last year, when it fell from No.5 to No. 106 on our list, dragged down by struggling DirectTV and losses of over $5 billion. This year, the Dallas-based company rebounded but did not make it high enough to land among the top 10 US companies. Its main competitor Verizon, however, remained sturdy throughout the pandemic and just broke through to the US ranking’s 10th spot. Sales rose by 5% to $134 billion and assets are up 16% from last year.
Big bounce-backs, like Exxon’s, in the Forbes The Global 2000 ranking of America’s largest public companies could be a sign that the world is finally settling back to its pre-Covid rhythms. At least for now, top US companies seem to stand strong in the face of sore inflation and contractionary policy, which have smaller businesses and consumers running for the hills.
“We remain optimistic on the economy, at least for the short term,” JPMorgan Jamie Dimon said in his latest earnings report. “Consumer and business balance sheets as well as consumer spending remain at healthy levels—but see significant geopolitical and economic challenges ahead due to high inflation, supply-chain issues, and the war in Ukraine.”
Credit: www.forbes.com /