Twenty years ago a Florida man paid someone in bitcoin to deliver him two Papa John's pizzas--which may go down as the worst financial transaction of all time. Today, a slice of Pizza will cost you just a few dollars, whereas the price of bitcoin is now well above $15,000. (See also: Bitcoin Pizza Day: Celebrating the $20 Million Pizza Order)
The biggest player in the cryptocurrency market, bitcoin, set another record when its total value topped $260 billion for the first time. That means it is also larger than 97% of the companies in the S&P 500.
With a year-to-date gain of 1,300 percent as of December 7, 2017, bitcoin returns have dwarfed the famed tech sector rally and only been outshone by its little brother, Ethereum. Beginning the year with a market cap of $15.5 billion, bitcoin's meteoric rise through the year has helped it become bigger than these companies.
The list of companies that bitcoin is surpassing in market cap is growing pretty fast, the latest to get left behind include PepsiCo., MasterCard, Coca-Cola and Visa. Here are some others.
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Nearly 127 years after Thomas Edison set up the first light bulb factory in Menlo Park, New Jersey, General Electric (GE) grew from being just an electric company to diversifying into everything from oil & gas to media and financing. However, the company has been through a rough ride over the past decade and its stock has been on a downward spiral since yielding a negative 52% return over a ten year period as of December 7, 2017.
The company hopes to turn its fortunes around under new leadership of John Flannery, who took over as the company's chairman and CEO from his predecessor Jeff Immelt.
- Market cap: $153 billion
- P/E ratio: 22.48
- Net Income 2016: $9.47 billion
For entertainment giant Walt Disney Company (DIS), 2017 has been a mixed bad of sorts. While concerns about what a drag ESPN has been on the company's profits remain, Disney announced the end of its agreement with Netflix (NFLX) and the launch of its own streaming service.
Films like Beauty and the Beast and Thor Ragnarok proved to be big successes this year and the company would look to capitalize further with its upcoming releases in the Star Wars and Avengers franchises. Disney's stock that has continued to rise over the years with small periods of declines. It peaked in November 2015 with a share price of $120, and is currently trading close to $105 a share.
- Market cap: $163 billion
- P/E ratio: 18.04
- Net Income 2017: $8.9 billion
Serving up fast-food in over 100 countries, does make McDonald's Corp. (MCD) a giant in the business and the company is continuing to look for more avenues of growth. Its experiments with digital ordering kiosks in its stores, improvements to mobile ordering and even hiring talent using Snapchat have captured investor interest. The stock has been on the rise for a few years now, setting new all-time highs recently.
- Market cap: $141 billion
- P/E ratio: 24.2
- Number of people employed: 1.9 million ( McDonald's and franchises)
The global technology behemoth has been struggling, reporting a decline in revenue growth for 22 consecutive quarters. While its last earnings report showed some signs of a turnaround, IBM still has a long way to go. Consider this, the stock is currently trading at close to $154 a share, far lower than the highs of $215 it touched in 2013. The company is betting big on blockchain technology to power its future earnings.
- Market cap: $143 billion
- P/E ratio: 12.69
- Net Income 2016: $11.89 billion
Goldman Sachs (GS) was named the top ranked Global M&A Advisor for 2016 by The Wall Street Journal, with 313 transactions worth $855 billion. But the investment bank is facing strong competition from its close rival Morgan Stanley and the stock too has felt some of that heat. (See also: Why Morgan Stanley Stock Is Crushing Goldman Sachs)
This is not the first time bitcoin has surpassed Goldman Sachs, the digital currency blazed past both Goldman and Morgan Stanley in October when it exceeded $5,800 in price.
- Market cap: $99 billion
- P/E ratio: 12.29
- Net Income 2016: $7.3 billion
Target Corp. (TGT), the second largest discount retailer in the U.S. is one of many retailers to suffer the Amazon.com Inc (AMZN) curse. As shoppers head for their laptops before the store, the retail industry has suffered - none more so than Target. In July 2015, the Minneapolis-based retailer peaked at $84.79, and as U.S. equity markets continued to rise, Target began its slow and steady decline, which was exasperated in June when Amazon announced its acquisition of Whole Foods Market.
According to FactSet data, Target has reported a fall in year-over-year quarterly sales every quarter since October 2015.
- Market cap: $33 billion
- P/E ratio: 12.03
- Net Income 2016: $2.67 billion
Difficult to imagine, but in May of 2017, the bitcoin market overtook American Airlines (AAL) in size. American Airlines, the largest U.S. airline by size, fleet, revenue, and profit operates more than 6700 flights a day and shifts hundred of millions of Americans every year. Despite all this, a digital currency that is discovered by miners and recorded on a ledger known as a blockchain is worth twice as much of America's leading moving of people.
- Market cap: $24 billion
- P/E ratio: 12.51
- Passengers carried in 2016: 202 million
Ford Motor Company
Michigan-based Ford Motor Company (F) has epitomized the plight of Detroit and the U.S. manufacturing business. Ford has suffered at the hands of cheapening labor, and more recently, the rise of the hybrid car movement. In July, Ford announced it would move production of its Focus vehicle to China from Michigan, further signs of squeezing labor and input costs.
Shares in Ford have been in steady decline since mid-2014, and in February of this year, its market cap dipped below $50 billion and has been unable to recover. Electric car maker Tesla Inc, (TSLA), that has turned just one quarterly profit in the last ten is now bigger than its Michigan counterpart. (See also: Tesla Stock Generated Most Returns Among Car Makers This Year)
- Market cap: $49 billion
- P/E ratio: 11.52
- Vehicles sold in 2016: 2,614,697
Embattled German lender, Deutsche Bank AG (DB) has been the poster child for everything that went wrong after the Great Recession. At its heights, Deutsche Bank reached $145 a share and was the leader in European banking. However, ten years later shares in Deutsche bank have plummeted below $20 a share and reached a low of $9.98.
Highly debt laden, Deutsche Bank has had to do numerous rounds of capital raising, and on top of the mounting debt, it has faced hefty fines from regulators. The largest was a $7.2 billion fine that was settled in early 2017 after the Department of Justice (DOJ) concluded it has misled clients into buying toxic mortgage-backed securities leading up to the financial crisis.
- Market cap: $39 billion
- Net Income 2016: -$1.86 billion
- Net Income 2015: -$7.8 billion
Either way you look at it, bitcoin, for all its weird and wonderful intricacies is here to stay. More countries are relaxing rules for its use, and at $260 billion it's not far off from overtaking retail giant, Wal-Mart ($288 billion), or Wells Fargo ($289 billion).