Stock price is an indicator of a company's market value, but the price of a share of stock will also depend on the number of shares outstanding. The reason why certain stocks are priced so high is usually due to the company having never or rarely having completed a stock split.
There are many ways to evaluate a stock in addition to its absolute share price. Here, we take a look at some of the largest companies in the U.S. and abroad.
Top Companies by Stock Price
The most expensive publicly traded stock of all time is Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A), which was trading at $320,250 per share, as of October 2020. Berkshire hit an all-time high on Jan. 17, 2020 at $347,400. Thanks to spectacular shareholder gains and the idiosyncrasies of its founder, this share value is unlikely to be matched by anything other than continued gains in Berkshire’s share price.
The next company behind Berkshire, in terms of absolute stock price, is NVR (NVR) at $4,175 per share as of October 2020. Then there is the Seaboard Corporation (SEB), which was trading at $3,450, and Amazon.com (AMZN) at $3,250, followed by Booking Holdings (BKNG) at $1,800 a share.
Top Companies by Market Cap
By market capitalization, as of October 2020, Apple (AAPL) is the biggest company at $2 trillion, followed by Microsoft (MSFT) at $1.6 trillion, Amazon.com (AMZN) at $1.5 trillion, Google (GOOGL) at $1.1 trillion, and Berkshire Hathaway at $510 billion.
Back in 2000, Chinese energy giant PetroChina (PTR) reached an estimated market value of around $1 trillion during its IPO. However, this valuation included shares not publicly traded in the total share count calculation, and the valuation didn't stick. As of October 2020, PTR's market capitalization stood at just $110 billion.
How Warren Buffett Made Berkshire A Winner
Top Companies by Revenue
In terms of the biggest global companies by revenue, Walmart (WMT) comes in as number one—according to the Fortune 500 list. Walmart's revenues were $514.4 billion in 2019. Behind Walmart was Sinopec Group with $444.6 billion in revenues, followed by China's State Grid with $398.2 billion, and China National Petroleum (PetroChina) at $366 billion.
Royal Dutch Shell ranks fifth with $344.8 billion in annual revenues, and the sixth and seventh spots are covered by car giants. Volkswagen and Toyota Motors at $299 billion and $272 billion in yearly revenues, respectively.
Based on only U.S.-headquartered companies' 2019 performance, Walmart still has the top spot, while ExxonMobil (XOM) comes in second with $264.9 billion a year in revenues. Apple ranks third with $260.2 billion and Berkshire Hathaway fourth with $254.6 billion. Healthcare companies take up the fifth through seventh spots: CVS, UnitedHealth Group, and McKesson, generating $256.0 billion, $242.3 billion, and $214.3 billion, respectively.
Top Private Companies
In terms of private companies, Forbes ranks Minnesota-based Cargill as the largest private U.S. company with $115.5 billion in annual revenues. The company has 160,000 employees. Second is Koch Industries with $110 billion in revenues and 130,000 employees. Ranking third is the grocery chain Albertsons, with $60.5 billion in annual revenue and 267,000 employees.
The fourth and fifth largest private companies are accounting giants Deloitte and PricewaterhouseCoopers, which generate $43.2 billion and $41.3 billion, respectively. Each employs over 236,000 employees.
The Bottom Line
On a pure market value measure, Apple is the most valuable company of all time. Although Amazon did briefly hit the $1 trillion market cap mark in Sept. 2018. It is certainly possible another company’s market cap will exceed Apple's, and maybe—though less likely—another company will surpass Berkshire Hathaway as the highest priced single stock.