10 Most Profitable Companies in the World

The list of the world's most profitable companies offers a glimpse of which countries wield the most economic power and the sectors with the most economic influence. The world's largest two economies by far, the U.S. and China, are headquarters for every one of the 10 most profitable companies: half are U.S. and half are Chinese. Equally important, half of the corporations on the list are technology companies and the other half are financial companies.

Only companies listed on U.S. or Canadian exchanges, either directly or through ADRs, are included in this list. Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia's state oil company, for example, went public on the Saudi Stock Exchange in December. It would have been among the world's 10 most profitable companies, and would have even topped the list in previous years.

Notably, four of the five tech firms on the list are U.S. and two of them hold the top two slots. The technology sector is comprised of companies that manufacture computers and electronics, develop software, and provide services relating to information technology, such as cloud computing and e-commerce.

Four out of the five financial companies on the list are based in China, most of them receiving major financial support from China's central government. The financial sector is comprised of banks, investment companies, insurance companies, and real estate firms. These companies offer a range of financial services, including deposits, loans, investment and wealth management, insurance, and brokerage services.

These are the 10 most profitable companies by 12-month trailing (TTM) net income. Some companies outside the U.S. report profits semi-annually instead of quarterly, so the 12-month trailing data may be older than it is for companies that report quarterly. Data is courtesy of YCharts.com. All figures are as of September 8.

Some of the stocks below are only traded over-the-counter (OTC) in the U.S., not on exchanges. Trading OTC stocks often carries higher trading costs than trading stocks on exchanges. This can lower or even outweigh potential returns.

#1 Apple Inc. (AAPL)

  • Net Income (TTM): $58.4 billion
  • Revenue (TTM): $273.9 billion
  • Market Cap: $2.1 trillion
  • 1-Year Trailing Total Return: 133.6%
  • Exchange: NASDAQ

Apple designs and manufactures mobile communication and media devices, personal computers, and portable digital music players. The company also sells a range of related software, services, accessories, networking solutions, music and video streaming, as well as third-party digital content and applications. Apple is best known for its series of iPhones, iPads, and Mac personal computers.

#2 Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)

  • Net Income (TTM): $44.3 billion
  • Revenue (TTM): $143.0 billion
  • Market Cap: $1.6 trillion
  • 1-Year Trailing Total Return: 57.4%
  • Exchange: NASDAQ

Microsoft develops, licenses, and supports a range of software products, services, and devices. The company's products include operating systems, server applications, business applications, software development tools, video games, and more. The company also manufactures personal computers, tablets, gaming and entertainment consoles, phones, other intelligent devices, and related accessories. Microsoft also offers cloud-based solutions, its fastest-growing business, through its Azure cloud-computing platform.

#3 Industrial And Commercial Bank Of China Ltd. (IDCBY)

  • Net Income (TTM): $41.7 billion
  • Revenue (TTM): $122.2 billion
  • Market Cap: $195.0 billion
  • 1-Year Trailing Total Return: -10.1%
  • Exchange: OTC

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China provides commercial banking and financial services. Those services include corporate and personal loans, trade financing, deposit-taking, corporate and personal wealth management, and custodial services. The company also engages in investment activities for its own account or on behalf of customers, including money market transactions, investment securities, foreign exchange transactions, and the holding of derivative positions.

#4 China Construction Bank Corp. (CICHY)

  • Net Income (TTM): $35.6 billion
  • Revenue (TTM): $104.3 billion
  • Market Cap: $173.8 billion
  • 1-Year Trailing Total Return: -1.7%
  • Exchange: OTC

China Construction Bank provides a wide range of financial services to corporate and individual customers, including corporate and personal loans, deposit-taking, wealth management, trade financing, financial consulting and advisory services, and remittance services. The bank also engages in investment activities such as inter-bank money market transactions, investments in debt securities, equities, as well as trading of derivatives and foreign currency.

#5 Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL)

  • Net Income (TTM): $31.5 billion
  • Revenue (TTM): $166.0 billion
  • Market Cap: $1.1 trillion
  • 1-Year Trailing Total Return: 33.7%
  • Exchange: NASDAQ

Alphabet is a holding company and the parent of Google Inc., its primary business. Google offers a range of Internet products, including Search, Ads, Commerce, Maps, YouTube, Google Cloud, Android, Chrome, and Google Play. It engages in advertising, sale of digital content, applications, cloud computing services, and sale of hardware products. Alphabet also offers smart-home products through Nest, online video gaming through Stadia, and is developing autonomous-driving technology through its Waymo project.

#6 Agricultural Bank of China Ltd. (ACGBY)

  • Net Income (TTM): $28.4 billion
  • Revenue (TTM): $91.5 billion
  • Market Cap: $112.3 billion
  • 1-Year Trailing Total Return: -5.3%
  • Exchange: OTC

Agricultural Bank of China provides provides international commercial banking and financial services. It offers financial products and services to individuals, corporations, government agencies, and financial institutions. The bank also engages in money market or repurchases transactions, debt instrument investments, and holding of derivative positions.

#7 JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM)

  • Net Income (TTM): $25.2 billion
  • Revenue (TTM): $118.9 billion
  • Market Cap: $315.5 billion
  • 1-Year Trailing Total Return: -2.4%
  • Exchange: New York Stock Exchange

JPMorgan is a global financial holding company that provides banking and financial services. The bank is involved in a broad range of businesses such as corporate lending, investment banking, market-making, prime brokerage, and treasury and securities products and services to corporations, investors, financial institutions, and government and municipal entities. It also offers consumer banking and asset management services.

#8 Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (BABA)

  • Net Income (TTM): $24.9 billion
  • Revenue (TTM): $77.9 billion
  • Market Cap: $761.3 billion
  • 1-Year Trailing Total Return: 61.4%
  • Exchange: New York Stock Exchange

Alibaba is a holding company founded in China and whose global headquarters is on the mainland even though it is legally domiciled in the Cayman Islands. It conducts various types of e-commerce businesses through its Chinese subsidiaries and variable interest entities (VIEs). Its primary source of revenue is from its giant digital marketplace connecting consumers and merchants, which allows them to buy and sell from each other. Its businesses consist of core commerce, cloud computing, mobile media and entertainment, and other innovation initiatives.

#9 Bank Of China Ltd. (BACHY)

  • Net Income (TTM): $24.8 billion
  • Revenue (TTM): $79.3 billion
  • Market Cap: $94.0 billion
  • 1-Year Trailing Total Return: -11.2%
  • Exchange: OTC

Bank of China provides a broad range of banking and financial services to individuals, corporations, government authorities, and financial institutions. Its services include savings, deposits, lending, mortgages, credit and debit cards, trade-related products, and credit facilities. The bank also offers insurance, underwriting, stock brokerage, investment research, and asset management services.

#10 Intel Corp. (INTC)

  • Net Income (TTM): $23.7 billion
  • Revenue (TTM): $79.0 billion
  • Market Cap: $213.0 billion
  • 1-Year Trailing Total Return: 4.7%
  • Exchange: NASDAQ

Intel designs and manufactures computer components and related products. Its main products include microprocessors, chipsets, embedded processors, flash memory, graphic, network and communication, systems management software, digital imaging products, and more. The company's clients include original equipment manufacturers, original design manufacturers, cloud and communications service providers, as well as industrial, communications, and automotive equipment manufacturers.

Article Sources

  1. YCharts. "Financial Data." Accessed Sep. 8, 2020.

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