Each week, I'm ranking the biggest companies that trade on U.S. exchanges based on their size (market capitalization), momentum (total return over the past year), and recent news. Before we get to the rankings, a quick word on a major player.
It's not just Sir Isaac Newton who learned something from a falling apple. Investors in Apple (AAPL -1.92%) took a 10% hit on Wednesday after the tech giant confirmed sluggish iPhone sales trends. Apple now sees $84 billion in revenue for its recently concluded fiscal first quarter.
Apple was eyeing $89 billion to $93 billion for the holiday-fueled quarter just two months ago, and even that outlook concerned investors. It would've been a marginal uptick from the $88.3 billion from a year earlier, but now Apple is bracing investors for an actual year-over-year decline.
This is a pretty big deal. Bulls have often pointed to Apple's booming services revenue as a new growth outlet. But if Apple's service revenue is still growing and the average selling price of its iconic smartphone is up -- which it is, considerably -- it points to a pretty sharp decline in unit sales over the past three months.
Apple was the toast of the tech town a few months ago as the lone stock with a market cap north of $1 trillion. Now it has fallen to nearly $700 billion. When we started these weekly rankings two months ago, Apple was the most valuable stock on the planet. Now it trails three other tech bellwethers.
With that in mind, let's review this week's updated list of 50 top large-cap stocks, kicking things off with the top 10.
This week's top 10 stocks
10. Facebook (META -3.91%): $396.4 billion market cap, down 25.2% over the past year.
The sharp sell-off in Facebook stock is making CEO Mark Zuckerberg less charitable. He announced in late 2017 that he would sell 35 million to 75 million shares into early 2019, giving away the majority of the proceeds to charities. However, with the stock taking a big hit in 2018 he held back on the selling in the fourth quarter, according to Bloomberg. He had raised $5.6 billion by selling 30.4 million shares since announcing his charity-fueled selling.
Check out the latest Facebook earnings call transcript.
9. JPMorgan Chase (JPM -0.49%): $334.8 billion, down 7.7%.
JPMorgan Chase went ex-dividend on its latest quarterly payout this past week. The institution is currently yielding 3.2%, and that's a welcome reminder that most of the bank stocks are yielding more than the money market funds and short-term CDs they sell. There's a lot more risk to owning the stock itself, of course, and in JPMorgan Chase's case the dividend isn't enough to offset the stock's nearly 8% decline over the past year.
Check out the latest JPMorgan Chase earnings call transcript.
8. Johnson & Johnson (JNJ 0.26%): $342.8 billion, down 9.1%.
A Johnson & Johnson subsidiary announced a long-term partnership with Veracyte (VCYT -1.62%) to accelerate the development of a nasal swab test to detect lung cancer. The news sent Veracyte's stock sharply higher, but it failed to deliver much of a boost to the much larger Johnson & Johnson.
Check out the latest Johnson & Johnson earnings call transcript.
7. Pfizer (PFE 0.83%): $248.6 billion, up 16.9%.
Whether the term "big pharma" to describe the major pharmaceuticals companies is endearing or derisive, the only near-term certainty is that they keep getting bigger. A $74 billion acquisition was announced this past week, and that's leading analysts to wonder if other drug giants, such as Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, will have to go shopping to compete. The merger news also opened the door for some, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren to comment on rising drug prices, a point of interest now that Warren has put herself up for consideration in the next presidential election.
Check out the latest Pfizer earnings call transcript.
6. Visa (V -0.45%): $294.6 billion, up 15.1%.
The leading credit card company was one of only a handful of megacap companies to come through with double-digit stock gains in 2018, and expectations are high in 2019. Analysts see revenue climbing 11% this fiscal year, with earnings growing at an even more impressive 15% pace. The shift away from cash continues, and Visa's there with the plastic, metal, and virtual means of settling up on transactions.
Check out the latest Visa earnings call transcript.
5. Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A -1.38%): $480.5 billion, down 2.7%.
It wasn't just Apple that took a hit on its disappointing guidance on Thursday. Shares of Berkshire Hathaway tumbled nearly 6% on the news. Warren Buffett has been a big buyer of Apple shares in recent years, to the point that Apple is Berkshire Hathaway's largest position, accounting for more than a quarter of its stock portfolio. Berkshire Hathaway's drop was just a little more than half of Apple's Thursday plunge, but that's just a tip of the hat to diversification.
4. Apple (down from 3): $703.6 billion, down 14.3%.
Apple blamed the slowing economy in China and rising trade tensions with the country as reasons for the softer guidance, but some market watchers aren't letting the iPhone maker off that easy. The Wall Street Journal argues that Apple is also facing cheaper rivals in China and that over in India, the world's second most populous nation, Apple's market penetration remains a mere 1% of overall sales. KeyBanc analyst Andy Hargreaves also points out that Apple is facing the music for its pricing power problems and that it may be hitting peak App Store monetization. A few analysts did rush to Apple's defense after the sell-off, but it's clear that Apple is kicking off the new calendar year with plenty to prove.
Check out the latest Apple earnings call transcript.
At least one Wall Street pro is feeling a bit more upbeat about Google's parent company. Canaccord analyst Michael Graham upgraded Alphabet from "hold" to "buy" on Thursday, arguing that the dot-com bellwether should continue to grow at a 15% to 20% clip through the next couple of years. He sees earnings following suit, partly through easing margin pressure and aggressive share buybacks. He is lifting his price target on the shares to $1,250, offering 17% of upside from its weekend close.
Check out the latest Alphabet earnings call transcript.
2. Amazon.com (AMZN -1.74%): $770.3 billion, up 30.2%.
Amazon turned heads two years ago when it acquired Whole Foods Market, and now it's apparently ready to take things to the next level. The Wall Street Journal reports that the world's leading online retailer plans to ramp up expansion of the organic grocer as a way to place more customers in range for its two-hour grocery delivery service. This is a pretty big deal, because Whole Foods Market was starting to pare back its growth ambitions before Amazon bought it in 2017. One analyst is even suggesting that Amazon will start adding gas pumps at some of its Whole Foods locations, giving the concept one more way to generate revenue form its in-store shoppers.
Check out the latest Amazon earnings call transcript.
1. Microsoft (MSFT -0.22%): $782.6 billion, up 17%.
The country's most valuable company by market cap isn't as entrenched in the smarthome hub market as Apple, Google, and Amazon, but that could be changing. Microsoft announced a collaboration for a new digital assistant platform that will run on Microsoft Azure. Nevo Butler will be an integrated digital assistant, giving Mr. Softy another way to keep up with the Joneses. Cortana, how hard is it to stay on top of this list for more than a few weeks?
Check out the latest Microsoft earnings call transcript.
The rank and file
We'll get to No. 11 through No. 50 in a moment, but first, let's look at one of the other Top 50 stocks making waves, for better or worse.
Netflix (WFC 0.53%) stock was the biggest gainer last week among the 50 stocks on our list. Shares of the leading premium streaming service soared 16.2% over the past week. Not since Christmas Eve has Netflix stock moved lower.
Netflix has had flawless holiday season. Its app is racing back up to the top of app store marketplaces, and it has a big hit with Bird Box. The creepy apocalyptic thriller was streamed by more than a third of its 139 million subscribers in its first week of availability. It also scored another viral hit with an interactive new episode in the Black Mirror series. Netflix was a big gainer in 2018, and that momentum is clearly carrying into 2019.
Check out the latest Netflix earnings call transcript.
Stocks 11 through 50
11. Merck & Co. (MRK 0.88%): $198.3 billion, up 33.7%.
12. UnitedHealth Group (UNH 1.36%): $230.5 billion, up 6.8%.
12. Alibaba (BABA -0.43%): $362.2 billion market cap, down 24.7%.
13. Verizon (VZ 0.37%): $232.9 billion market cap, up 7.2%.
15. Mastercard (MA -0.94%): $196 billion, up 21.8%.
16. Cisco (CSCO -1.93%): $193 billion, up 10.1%.
17. ExxonMobil (XOM -0.71%): $301.2 billion, down 18%.
18. Walmart (WMT -0.58%): $271.5 billion, down 6.1%
19. Procter & Gamble (PG -1.00%): $230.4 billion, down 1.4%.
20. Intel (INTC -2.60%): $215.5 billion, up 6.3%.
21. Coca-Cola (KO -0.57%): $202.5 billion, up 3.2%
22. Boeing (BA -1.23%): $185.7 billion, up 10.3%.
23. Netflix (NFLX 1.00%): $129.8 billion, up 44.7%.
24. Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A): $248 billion, down 7.5%.
25. Novartis (NOV -0.52%): $198.6 billion, up 2.1%.
26. Bank of America (BAC -0.75%): $251 billion, down 15.3%.
27. Walt Disney (DIS -0.37%): $163.2 billion, down 2.3%.
28. Chevron (CVX -2.25%): $211.8 billion, down 13.5%.
29. Home Depot (HD -1.42%): $196.1 billion, down 8.9%.
30. PetroChina (PTR): $185 billion, down 15.6%.
31. Wells Fargo (WFC 0.53%): $225.7 billion, down 23.1%.
32. PepsiCo (PEP -0.31%): $156 billion, down 6.7%.
33. McDonald's (MCD -1.59%): $137.4 billion, up 2.6%.
34. Oracle (ORCL -1.14%): $167.6 billion, down 3.1%.
35. Eli Lilly (LLY 0.64%): $112.7 billion, up 34.1%.
36. Adobe (ADBE -1.85%): $110.4 billion, up 23.5%.
37. Nike (NKE -2.37%): $118.6 billion, up 17.7%.
38. Abbott Laboratories (ABT -1.88%): $119.6 billion, up 15.8%.
39. BHP Billiton (BHP -0.25%): $119.8 billion, up 10.1%.
40. China Mobile (CHL): $200.7 billion, down 1.7%.
41. Salesforce.com (CRM -0.71%): $105.5 billion, up 29.3%.
42. Amgen (AMGN -1.47%): $124.5 billion, up 8.8%.
43. Union Pacific (UNP -0.93%): $105 billion, up 10.4%.
44. AstraZeneca (AZN -0.07%): $94.1 billion, up 17.8%.
45. Medtronic(MDT -0.48%): $118.4 billion, up 4.8%.
47. AT&T (T -0.49%): $230.4 billion, down 20.2%.
48. Petrobras (PBR 1.63%): $92.1billion, up 47.8%.
49. PayPal Holdings (PYPL -3.67%): $101.7 billion, up 12.4%.
50. Unilever (UL 0.26%): $141 billion, up 1.4%.
50. Costco (COST -2.35%): $90.8 billion, up 9.1%.
Who's in and who's out
Bulk is back, as Costco makes a heroic return to our list. The leading warehouse club operator is starting to claw its way back into investor fancy after a poorly received quarter last month. Costco had a rare earnings miss, but sales remain strong with a 7.5% surge in comparable-store sales.
Check out the latest Costco earnings call transcript.
Taiwan Semiconductor (TSM -0.04%) is the name leaving to make way for Costco's entry. Taiwan Semiconductor only last on the list for two weeks. The maker of integrated circuits and other semiconductor devices saw its shares slide 6% over the past week as Apple's guidance miss sent several chip stocks lower, opening the door for Costco with its 2% ascent during the same week.
One to watch
One of the largest companies not making the cut is Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD -0.24%). Despite a sudsy market cap just above $135 billion, higher than a dozen names among the top 50 this week, the beer and beverage giant has seen its stock take a brutal 36% hit over the past year.
There are some good reasons Anheuser-Busch has fallen out of favor with investors. The stock has missed Wall Street profit targets every single quarter over the past year, revenue is declining, and it cut its dividend rate late last year, a move that scared away a fair share of income investors.
Anheuser-Busch is still a force. Smaller rivals may be collectively gaining market share at its expense, but it's striking new deals to get in on new beverage trends. Analysts also see a return to top- and bottom-line growth in 2019. Anheuser-Busch has a lot to prove, but its mammoth market cap makes it a name that may "tap" this ranked list in the months to come.
Check out the latest Anheuser-Busch earnings call transcript.