Everyone has a different definition of success. Some say it’s based on wealth accumulation. Others say it’s what you contribute to society. Still others think success is a function of longevity. Maybe success is a little bit of all of these factors. Companies that have a strong financial history, provide products or services that benefit society, and have been able to survive and thrive over sustained periods of time are commonly considered successful. In this article, we’ve put together a list of some of the most successful corporations in the United States, all found in the S&P 100, a bellwether index for the largest and most well-established businesses.


Amazon.com (AMZN) was founded in 1994 by Jeff Bezos. Bezos is now known as one of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs and one of the wealthiest. While there are many other great retailers in American history, Amazon.com is the most successful pioneer marrying the innovations from the technology revolution (primarily the invention of the worldwide web) with traditional retailing. Amazon.com has changed the retail habits of many consumers, helped to mold e-commerce as we know it and also introduced a tremendous threat to the traditional retail marketplace. This company revolutionized many aspects of retailing, causing its competitors – both brick and mortar and internet based – to update their operations in order to compete. Its greatest feat, which has influenced many businesses in various industries, is its supply chain. This consists of individual retailer operations across the world, and has guaranteed an enormous competitive advantage.

Based on its IPO in 1997, Amazon’s stock has given shareholders a tremendous return. From a starting point of $2.44 per share to today’s price of 1,762.99 as of Oct. 15, 2108, shareholders have experienced exponential returns. Over the past five years, Amazon ranks third for the total return performance in the S&P 100 with an annualized return of 40.78%.


Apple’s stock has been reaching new highs in 2018, trading at a value of 217.95 on Oct.15, 2018. Founded on April 1, 1976, the company has produced some of the world’s most prominent executives in Steve Jobs and Tim Cook. Revenue for the business has grown to $229 billion in 2017. As of Oct.15, 2018, the company’s stock return also tops the S&P 100 with a three annualized total gain of 25.52%.

The firm has mastered the art of electronic manufacturing also innocuously efficient in global sales management. Consumers and business can choose from 500 retail stores across the globe and a full array of the company’s products online and in stores. Leading innovations in Macintosh operating systems, the smartphone, tablet, watch and more Apple’s products range from the Apple Mac personal computer through iPods, iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, Apple TVs, Home Pods and more.


Nvidia has been a rising star over the past 10 years. It led the S&P 100 in three year annualized total return with a gain of 108.63%. It also posts a ten-year annualized return of 42.66%. The company operates in the technology and semiconductor sector. It has a market cap of $144 billion. Free cash flow for the business has been substantially high supporting its growth. As of Oct. 2018, it has a free cash flow to revenue ratio of 20.83%. Three-year annualized revenue growth is 27.4% with a trailing 12-month growth margin of 62%.

Nvidia has its headquarters in Santa Clara, California. Its primary business focuses on manufacturing and development of graphics processing units (GPUs), central processing units (CPUs), chipsets and drivers for companies all over the world.


J.P. Morgan Chase & Co (JPM), one of the oldest companies in America, has been operating since 1799. This bank has transformed itself over the years to become one of the largest financial institutions in the world, with annual managed revenues of $105 billion through October 2018.  J.P. Morgan prides itself on three core principles – building exceptional client franchises, operating with fortress principles (capital, liquidity, balance sheet, and risk discipline with strong controls and culture) and maximizing long-term shareholder value. They have one of the highest returns on assets in the financial sector at 1.01%. The company also has a committed dividend payout ratio of 30% and a forward dividend yield of 2.87%.


Microsoft has been operating since 1975. Its prominent leaders have included Bill Gates and current chief executive officer Satya Nadella. Its revenues were over $110 billion in 2018. In 2018 it has one-year revenue growth of 14.28% and a five-year annualized gross margin average of 64%. The company reports a three-year annualized return of 32.91% and a five-year annualized return of 27.05%. It is also committed to environmentally sustainable and green technology efforts with a wide range of initiatives across the world.

The Bottom Line

There are many well-known American companies, but these five iconic American brands with a pervasive global presence have been revolutionary in their own right. Their long-term shareholders have been rewarded and consumers have benefited from their products and services over many years. If success is measured by benefits to society, shareholder value creation, inspirational management and surviving through different macroeconomic environments, then these companies epitomize success.