What's the Most Expensive Stock of All Time?

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.

Key Takeaways

  • Companies are typically valued by their total market capitalization on a stock exchange, or number of shares outstanding times the share price.
  • Still, many investors are interested in the most pricey shares available on an exchange, which can indicate exclusivity.
  • Companies can also be ranked by revenue and profitability.

Top Companies by Stock Price

The most expensive publicly traded share of all time is Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A), which was trading at $458,675 per share, as of January 2022. Berkshire hit an all-time high on Jan. 18, 2022, at $487,255. 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.

Image by Sabrina Jiang © Investopedia 2020

The next company behind Berkshire, in terms of nominal share price, is NVR (NVR) at $5,154.98 per share as of January 2022. Then there is the Seaboard Corporation (SEB), which was trading at $3,731.02, and Amazon.com (AMZN) at $2,852.86, followed by Alphabet, Inc (GOOG) at $2,607.03 a share.


How Warren Buffett Made Berkshire A Winner

Top Companies by Market Cap

By market capitalization, as of January 2022, Apple (AAPL) is the biggest company at $2.652 trillion, followed by Microsoft (MSFT) at $2.222 trillion, Google (GOOGL) at $1.725 trillion, Amazon.com (AMZN) at $1.446 trillion, Tesla (TSLA) at $947.92 billion, and Meta (META), formerly Facebook, at $843.34 billion.

Back in 2007, Chinese energy giant PetroChina (PTR) reached an estimated market value of around $1 trillion. However, this valuation didn't stick. As of January 2022, PTR's market capitalization stood at just $146.95 billion.

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 $523,964 billion in 2021. Behind Walmart was State Grid with $383,906 billion in revenues, followed by Amazon with $280,522 billion, and China National Petroleum at $379,130 billion. 

Sinopec Group ranks fifth with $407,009 billion in annual revenues, and the sixth and seventh spots are covered by Apple and CVS Health with $260,174 billion and $256,776 billion in yearly revenues, respectively.

Based on only U.S.-headquartered companies' 2020 performance, Walmart still has the top spot, while Amazon comes in second. Exxon Mobil ranks third and Apple ranks fourth. Healthcare companies take up the fifth, seventh, and eighth spots: CVS, UnitedHealth Group, and McKesson, generating $256.78 billion, $242.15 billion, and $231.05 billion, respectively.

Berkshire Hathaway ranks sixth with $254.62 billion in annual revenues, and the ninth and tenth spots are covered by AT&T and AmerisourceBergen at $181.19 billion and $179.59 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 $290.21 billion a year in revenues. Apple ranks third with $265.59 billion and Berkshire Hathaway fourth with $247.84 billion. Healthcare companies take up the sixth through eighth spots: UnitedHealth Group, McKesson, and CVS, generating $226.25 billion, $214.32 billion, and $194.58 billion, respectively. 

Top Private Companies

In terms of private companies, Forbes ranks Minnesota-based Cargill as the largest private U.S. company with $134.4 billion in annual revenues. The company has 155,000 employees. Second is Koch Industries with $115 billion in revenues and 122,000 employees. Ranking third is the grocery chain Publix Super Markets, with $44.9 billion in annual revenue and 227,000 employees. 

The fourth and fifth largest private companies are Mars and H-E-B, which generate $40 billion and $32.8 billion, respectively. Each employs over 100,000 employees.  

The Bottom Line

On a pure market value measure, Apple has often been considered the most valuable, publicly traded company of all time. Although Microsoft did briefly hit the $2 trillion market cap mark in June 2021. It is certainly possible another company’s market cap will exceed these measures, and maybe—though less likely—another company will surpass Berkshire Hathaway as the highest priced single stock share.

Article Sources
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  1. New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). "Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. BRK.A."

  2. CompaniesMarketCap. "Largest Companies by Market Cap."

  3. CompaniesMarketCap. "Market Capitalization of PetroChina (PTR)."

  4. Fortune. "Global 500."

  5. Fortune. "Fortune 500."

  6. Forbes. "America's Largest Private Companies."

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