Ranked: The Biggest Companies in the World in 2021
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The Biggest Companies in the World in 2021

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Biggest Companies in the World by Market Cap

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The Biggest Companies in the World

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Since the COVID-19 crash, global equity markets have seen a strong recovery. The 100 biggest companies in the world were worth a record-breaking $31.7 trillion as of March 31 2021, up 48% year-over-year. As a point of comparison, the combined GDP of the U.S. and China was $35.7 trillion in 2020.

In today’s graphic, we use PwC data to show the world’s biggest businesses by market capitalization, as well as the countries and sectors they are from.

The Top 100, Ranked

PwC ranked the largest publicly-traded companies by their market capitalization in U.S. dollars. It’s also worth noting that sector classification is based on the FTSE Russell Industry Classification Benchmark, and a company’s location is based on where its headquarters are located.

Here is the top 100 ranking of the biggest companies in the world, organized from the biggest to the smallest.

RankCompany nameLocationSectorMarket Capitalization
1APPLE INC🇺🇸 United StatesTechnology$2.1T
2SAUDI ARAMCO🇸🇦 Saudi ArabiaEnergy$1.9T
3MICROSOFT CORP🇺🇸 United StatesTechnology$1.8T
4AMAZON.COM INC🇺🇸 United StatesConsumer Discretionary$1.6T
5ALPHABET INC🇺🇸 United StatesTechnology$1.4T
6FACEBOOK INC🇺🇸 United StatesTechnology$839B
7TENCENT🇨🇳 ChinaTechnology$753B
8TESLA INC🇺🇸 United StatesConsumer Discretionary$641B
9ALIBABA GRP🇨🇳 ChinaConsumer Discretionary$615B
10BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY🇺🇸 United StatesFinancials$588B
11TSMC🇹🇼 TaiwanTechnology$534B
12VISA INC🇺🇸 United StatesIndustrials$468B
13JPMORGAN CHASE🇺🇸 United StatesFinancials$465B
14JOHNSON & JOHNSON🇺🇸 United StatesHealth Care$433B
15SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS🇰🇷 South KoreaTechnology$431B
16KWEICHOW MOUTA🇨🇳 ChinaConsumer Staples$385B
17WALMART INC🇺🇸 United StatesConsumer Discretionary$383B
18MASTERCARD INC🇺🇸 United StatesIndustrials$354B
19UNITEDHEALTH GRP🇺🇸 United StatesHealth Care$352B
20LVMH MOET HENNESSY🇫🇷 FranceConsumer Discretionary$337B
21WALT DISNEY CO🇺🇸 United StatesConsumer Discretionary$335B
22BANK OF AMERICA🇺🇸 United StatesFinancials$334B
23PROCTER & GAMBLE🇺🇸 United StatesConsumer Staples$333B
24NVIDIA CORP🇺🇸 United StatesTechnology$331B
25HOME DEPOT INC🇺🇸 United StatesConsumer Discretionary$329B
26NESTLE SA🇨🇭 SwitzerlandConsumer Staples$322B
27IND & COMM BK🇨🇳 ChinaFinancials$290B
28PAYPAL HOLDINGS🇺🇸 United StatesIndustrials$284B
29ROCHE HOLDING🇨🇭 SwitzerlandHealth Care$283B
30INTEL CORP🇺🇸 United StatesTechnology$261B
31ASML HOLDING NV🇳🇱 NetherlandsTechnology$255B
32TOYOTA MOTOR🇯🇵 JapanConsumer Discretionary$254B
33COMCAST CORP🇺🇸 United StatesTelecommunications$248B
34VERIZON COMMUNICATIONS🇺🇸 United StatesTelecommunications$241B
35EXXON MOBIL CORP🇺🇸 United StatesEnergy$236B
36NETFLIX INC🇺🇸 United StatesConsumer Discretionary$231B
37ADOBE INC🇺🇸 United StatesTechnology$228B
38COCA-COLA CO🇺🇸 United StatesConsumer Staples$227B
39MEITUAN🇨🇳 ChinaTechnology$226B
40PING AN🇨🇳 ChinaFinancials$219B
41CISCO SYSTEMS🇺🇸 United StatesTelecommunications$218B
42AT&T INC🇺🇸 United StatesFinancials$216B
43L'OREAL🇫🇷 FranceConsumer Discretionary$215B
44CHINA CONSTRUCTION
BANK
🇨🇳 ChinaFinancials$213B
45ABBOTT LABS🇺🇸 United StatesHealth Care$212B
46NOVARTIS AG🇨🇭 SwitzerlandHealth Care$212B
47NIKE INC🇺🇸 United StatesConsumer Discretionary$209B
48ORACLE CORP🇺🇸 United StatesTechnology$202B
49PFIZER INC🇺🇸 United StatesHealth Care$202B
50CHEVRON CORP🇺🇸 United StatesOil & Gas$202B
51CHINA MERCH🇨🇳 ChinaFinancials$196B
52PEPSICO INC🇺🇸 United StatesConsumer Staples$195B
53SALESFORCE.COM🇺🇸 United StatesTechnology$195B
54MERCK & CO🇺🇸 United StatesHealth Care$195B
55ABBVIE INC🇺🇸 United StatesHealth Care$191B
56BROADCOM INC🇺🇸 United StatesTechnology$189B
57PROSUS NV🇳🇱 NetherlandsTechnology$181B
58RELIANCE INDS🇮🇳 IndiaEnergy$180B
59THERMO FISHER🇺🇸 United StatesHealth Care$180B
60ELI LILLY & CO🇺🇸 United StatesHealth Care$179B
61AGRICULTURAL BANK OF
CHINA
🇨🇳 ChinaFinancials$178B
62SOFTBANK GROUP🇯🇵 JapanTelecommunications$176B
63ACCENTURE PLC🇮🇪 IrelandIndustrials$176B
64TEXAS INSTRUMENT🇺🇸 United StatesTechnology$174B
65MCDONALDS CORP🇺🇸 United StatesConsumer Discretionary$167B
66VOLKSWAGEN AG🇩🇪 GermanyConsumer Discretionary$165B
67BHP GROUP LTD🇦🇺 AustraliaBasic Materials$163B
68WELLS FARGO & CO🇺🇸 United StatesFinancials$162B
69TATA CONSULTANCY🇮🇳 IndiaTechnology$161B
70DANAHER CORP🇺🇸 United StatesHealth Care$160B
71NOVO NORDISK🇩🇰 DenmarkHealth Care$160B
72MEDTRONIC PLC🇮🇪 IrelandHealth Care$159B
73WULIANGYE YIBI🇨🇳 ChinaConsumer Staples$159B
74COSTCO WHOLESALE🇺🇸 United StatesConsumer Discretionary$156B
75T-MOBILE US INC🇺🇸 United StatesTelecommunications$156B
76CITIGROUP INC🇺🇸 United StatesFinancials$152B
77HONEYWELL INTL🇺🇸 United StatesIndustrials$151B
78QUALCOMM INC🇺🇸 United StatesTechnology$151B
79SAP SE🇩🇪 GermanyTechnology$151B
80BOEING CO🇺🇸 United StatesIndustrials$149B
81ROYAL DUTCH SHELL🇳🇱 NetherlandsOil & Gas$148B
82NEXTERA ENERGY🇺🇸 United StatesUtilities$148B
83UNITED PARCEL🇺🇸 United StatesIndustrials$148B
84UNION PAC CORP🇺🇸 United StatesIndustrials$148B
85UNILEVER PLC🇬🇧 United KingdomConsumer Staples$147B
86AIA🇭🇰 Hong Kong SARFinancials$147B
87LINDE PLC🇬🇧 United KingdomBasic Materials$146B
88AMGEN INC🇺🇸 United StatesHealth Care$144B
89BRISTOL-MYER SQB🇺🇸 United StatesHealth Care$141B
90SIEMENS AG🇩🇪 GermanyIndustrials$140B
91BANK OF CHINA🇨🇳 ChinaFinancials$139B
92PHILIP MORRIS INC🇺🇸 United StatesConsumer Staples$138B
93LOWE'S COS INC🇺🇸 United StatesConsumer Discretionary$136B
94CHARTER
COMMUNICATIONS
🇺🇸 United StatesTelecommunications$135B
95CHINA MOBILE🇭🇰 Hong Kong SARTelecommunications$134B
96SONY GROUP CORP🇯🇵 JapanConsumer Discretionary$132B
97ASTRAZENECA PLC🇬🇧 United KingdomHealth Care$131B
98ROYAL BANK OF CANADA🇨🇦 CanadaFinancials$131B
99STARBUCKS CORP🇺🇸 United StatesConsumer Discretionary$129B
100ANHEUSER-BUSCH🇧🇪 BelgiumConsumer Staples$128B

Note: Data as of March 31, 2021.

Within the ranking, there was a wide disparity in value. Apple was worth over $2 trillion, more than 16 times that of Anheuser-Busch (AB InBev), which took the 100th spot at $128 billion.

In total, 59 companies were headquartered in the United States, making up 65% of the top 100’s total market capitalization. China and its regions was the second most common location for company headquarters, with 14 companies on the list.

Risers and Fallers

What are some of the notable changes to the biggest companies in the world compared to last year’s ranking?

Tesla’s market capitalization surged by an eye-watering 565%, temporarily making Elon Musk the richest person in the world. Food delivery platform Meituan and PayPal benefited from growing e-commerce popularity with their market capitalizations growing by 221% and 151% respectively.

Tech companies TSMC and ASML Holdings were also among the top 10 risers, thanks to a shortage of semiconductor chips and growing demand.

On the other end of the scale, Swiss companies Nestlé, Novartis, and Roche Holding were all among the bottom 10 companies by market capitalization growth. China Mobile was the only company to decline with a -12% change. The company was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange as a result of an executive order issued by former president Donald Trump, and recently announced its intention to list on the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

A Sector View

Across the 100 biggest companies in the world, some sectors had higher weightings.

SectorTotal Market Cap in Top 100% of Top 100 Market CapNumber of Companies in Top 100
Technology$10.5T33.0%20
Consumer Discretionary$6.0T18.9%17
Financials$3.4T10.8%14
Health Care$3.3T10.5%16
Energy$2.7T8.5%5
Consumer Staples$2.0T6.4%9
Industrials$2.0T6.4%9
Telecommunications$1.3T4.1%7
Basic Materials$0.3T1.0%2
Utilities$0.1T0.5%1

Technology had the highest market capitalization and was also the most common sector, with Big Tech dominating the top 10. Companies in the consumer discretionary, financials, and health care sectors also had a strong representation in the ranking.

Despite having only five companies on the list, the energy sector amounted to almost 10% of the top 100’s market capitalization, mostly due to Saudi Aramco’s whopping valuation.

An Uncertain Recovery

From near market lows on March 31, 2020, all sectors saw increases in their market capitalization. However, top 100 companies in some sectors outperformed their respective industry index, while others did not.

Sector Performance of Biggest Companies in the World

Basic materials and industrials, both cyclical sectors, were high performers in the top 100 and outperformed their respective industry indexes. Technology companies also outperformed, and accounted for $255 billion or 31% of all shareholder distributions by the top 100, far more than any other sector. Apple alone spent $73 billion on share buybacks and $14 billion in dividends in the 2020 calendar year.

On the other hand, the worst-performing sectors in the top 100 were health care, utilities, and energy. While the index performance for health care and utilities was also relatively poor, the wider energy sector performed fairly well.

It’s perhaps not surprising that all sectors saw positive returns since their low levels in March 2020, buoyed by fiscal stimulus and central bank policies. As countries begin to reopen, will the value of the biggest companies in the world continue to climb?

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Markets

The World’s Biggest Real Estate Bubbles in 2021

According to UBS, there are nine real estate markets that are in bubble territory with prices rising to unsustainable levels.

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Ranked: The World’s Biggest Real Estate Bubbles in 2021

Identifying real estate bubbles is a tricky business. After all, even though many of us “know a bubble when we see it”, we don’t have tangible proof of a bubble until it actually bursts.

And by then, it’s too late.

The map above, based on data from the Real Estate Bubble Index by UBS, serves as an early warning system, evaluating 25 global cities and scoring them based on their bubble risk.

Reading the Signs

Bubbles are hard to distinguish in real-time as investors must judge whether a market’s pricing accurately reflects what will happen in the future. Even so, there are some signs to watch out for.

As one example, a decoupling of prices from local incomes and rents is a common red flag. As well, imbalances in the real economy, such as excessive construction activity and lending can signal a bubble in the making.

With this in mind, which global markets are exhibiting the most bubble risk?

The Geography of Real Estate Bubbles

Europe is home to a number of cities that have extreme bubble risk, with Frankfurt topping the list this year. Germany’s financial hub has seen real home prices rise by 10% per year on average since 2016—the highest rate of all cities evaluated.

housing bubble index 2021

Two Canadian cities also find themselves in bubble territory: Toronto and Vancouver. In the former, nearly 30% of purchases in 2021 went to buyers with multiple properties, showing that real estate investment is alive and well. Despite efforts to cool down these hot urban markets, Canadian markets have rebounded and continued their march upward. In fact, over the past three decades, residential home prices in Canada grew at the fastest rates in the G7.

Despite civil unrest and unease over new policies, Hong Kong still has the second highest score in this index. Meanwhile, Dubai is listed as “undervalued” and is the only city in the index with a negative score. Residential prices have trended down for the past six years and are now down nearly 40% from 2014 levels.

Note: The Real Estate Bubble Index does not currently include cities in Mainland China.

Trending Ever Upward

Overheated markets are nothing new, though the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the dynamic of real estate markets.

For years, house price appreciation in city centers was all but guaranteed as construction boomed and people were eager to live an urban lifestyle. Remote work options and office downsizing is changing the value equation for many, and as a result, housing prices in non-urban areas increased faster than in cities for the first time since the 1990s.

Even so, these changing priorities haven’t deflated the real estate market in the world’s global cities. Below are growth rates for 2021 so far, and how that compares to the last five years.

housing bubble price increases 2021

Overall, prices have been trending upward almost everywhere. All but four of the cities above—Milan, Paris, New York, and San Francisco—have had positive growth year-on-year.

Even as real estate bubbles continue to grow, there is an element of uncertainty. Debt-to-income ratios continue to rise, and lending standards, which were relaxed during the pandemic, are tightening once again. Add in the societal shifts occurring right now, and predicting the future of these markets becomes more difficult.

In the short term, we may see what UBS calls “the era of urban outperformance” come to an end.

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Mapped: Distribution of Global GDP by Region

Where does the world’s economic activity take place? This cartogram shows the $94 trillion global economy divided into 1,000 hexagons.

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Map of Global Wealth Distribution

Mapped: The Distribution of Global GDP by Region

Gross domestic product (GDP) measures the value of goods and services that an economy produces in a given year, but in a global context, it is typically shown using country-level data.

As a result, we don’t often get to see the nuances of the global economy, such as how much specific regions and metro areas contribute to global GDP.

In these cartograms, global GDP has been normalized to a base number of 1,000 in order to show a more regional breakdown of economic activity. Created by Reddit user /BerryBlue_Blueberry, the two maps show the distribution in different ways: by nominal GDP and by GDP adjusted for purchasing power parity (PPP).

Methodology

Before diving in, let us give you some context on how these maps were designed. Each hexagon on the two maps represents 0.1% of the world’s overall GDP.

The number below each region, country or metropolitan area represents the number of hexagons covered by that entity. So in the nominal GDP map, the state of New York represents 20 hexagons (i.e. 2.0% of global GDP), while Munich’s metro area is 3 hexagons (0.3%).

Countries are further broken down based on size. Countries that make up more than 0.95% of global GDP are broken down into subdivisions, while countries that are smaller than 0.1% of GDP are grouped together. Metro areas that account for over 0.25% of global GDP are featured.

Finally, it should be noted that to account for some outdated subdivision participation data, the map creator calculated 2021 estimates for this using the formula: national GDP (2021) x % of subdivision participation (2017-2020).

Nominal vs. PPP

The above map is using nominal data, while the below map accounts for differences in purchasing power (PPP).

Adjusting for PPP takes into account the relative value of currencies and purchasing power in countries around the world. For example, $100 (or its exchange equivalent in Indian rupees) is generally going to be able to buy more in India than it is in the United States.

This is because goods and services are cheaper in India, meaning you can actually purchase more there for the same amount of money.

Anomalies in Global GDP Distribution

Breaking down global GDP distribution into cartograms highlights some interesting anomalies worth considering:

  1. North America, Europe, and East Asia, with a combined GDP of nearly $75 trillion, make up 80% of the world’s GDP in nominal terms.
  2. The U.S. State of California accounts for 3.7% of the world’s GDP by itself, which ranks higher than the United Kingdom’s total contribution of 3.3%.
  3. Canada as a country accounts for 2% of the world’s GDP, which is comparable to the GDP contribution of the Greater Tokyo Area at 2.2%.
  4. With a GDP of $3 trillion, India’s contribution overshadows the GDP of the whole African continent ($2.6 trillion).
  5. This visualization highlights the economic might of cities better than a conventional map. One standout example of this is in Ontario, Canada. The Greater Toronto Area completely eclipses the economy of the rest of the province.

Inequality of GDP Distribution

The fact that certain countries generate most of the world’s economic output is reflected in the above cartograms, which resize countries or regions accordingly.

Compared to wealthier nations, emerging economies still account for just a tiny sliver of the pie.

India, for example, accounts for 3.2% of global GDP in nominal terms, even though it contains 17.8% of the world’s population.

That’s why on the nominal map, India is about the same size as France, the United Kingdom, or Japan’s two largest metro areas (Tokyo and Osaka-Kobe)—but of course, these wealthier places have a far higher GDP per capita.

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