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.
We have a new name on top of the list this week, as Amazon.com (AMZN 1.24%) has seized the market-cap crown from Microsoft (MSFT 0.74%). Amazon is now the only company on the planet with a market cap north of $800 billion.
Using $800 billion as a high-water mark isn't as glitzy as $1 trillion, a market cap that Amazon briefly commanded last year and Apple (AAPL 1.88%) donned for several months before fears of shrinking iPhone sales roughed up the consumer-tech behemoth. Apple has gone from being the world's most valuable company to fourth among stateside-listed investments.
Amazon is hitting all the right notes with Wall Street. It had another strong showing over the holidays, and consumers continue to flock to the convenience and price savings that can be found in efficient and lean dot-com darlings. Amazon has consistently had the strongest 12-month trailing return when pitted against Microsoft and Apple over the past few months, and now that it's also the most valuable company in terms of market cap it will probably stay on top of this list for some time.
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. Alibaba (BABA -0.89%) (new): $392.2 billion market cap, down 19.8% over the past year.
China's leading online marketplace jumps into the top 10 this week. There are still plenty of macro concerns when it comes to China's economy, but investors have been buying back into the Chinese growth stocks that came under fire through the latter half of last year. Alibaba is trading 10% higher through the first few trading days of 2019.
Check out the latest Alibaba earnings call transcript.
9. Facebook (META -1.08%): $413.3 billion market cap, down 23.4%.
The social-networking leader took the biggest hit among the FAANG stocks, but it's finding its groove in 2019. A couple of analysts put out encouraging notes on Facebook over the past week. Argus reiterated its bullish rating on the stock, sticking to its earlier $206 price target that suggests 43% of upside from where it's perched at now. J.P. Morgan, meanwhile, tapped Facebook as one of its best internet investing ideas for 2019. After last year's sharp sell-off the stock has moved nearly 10% higher year to date.
Check out the latest Facebook earnings call transcript.
8. Johnson & Johnson (JNJ -0.08%): $348 billion, down 10.4%.
Drug prices have become a hot topic these days, and things got even more interesting when Alex Azar, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, tweeted to praise some of the good behavior from three companies that have lowered prices on key products. Johnson & Johnson was not on the list, and Reuters is reporting that it boosted prices on two dozen prescription medications earlier this month.
Check out the latest Johnson & Johnson earnings call transcript.
7. Pfizer (PFE -0.20%): $247.8 billion, up 17.3%.
The pharmaceuticals giant is closing down two of its manufacturing facilities in India. The plants make generic injectables, including penicillin, and giving declining demand, it's hard to justify prior production levels. It's a blow to a region that can use the jobs, and the factories account for roughly 6% of Pfizer's workforce.
Check out the latest Pfizer earnings call transcript.
6. Visa (V -0.56%): $304.3 billion, up 15.2%.
"It's everywhere you want to be." That's the credit card giant's iconic slogan, and the next step may be into your car's satellite radio. Visa announced that it's teaming up with Sirius XM Holdings (SIRI -3.18%) for an in-vehicle payment solution. A digital wallet for Sirius XM listeners would allow drivers and passengers to settle up on transactions without driver distractions.
Check out the latest Visa earnings call transcript.
5. Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A -0.08%): $483 billion, down 5.2%.
Warren Buffett is off to a slow start in 2019. Shares of Berkshire Hathaway have declined 4% year to date, but investors know you don't bet against the Oracle of Omaha for too long. It doesn't help that Apple is Berkshire Hathaway's largest position and that he's also heavy into financial stocks at a time when rising rates are weighing on their prospects. The good news for investors is that Berkshire Hathaway is flush with cash that Buffett can put to use as he spots market bargains.
4. Apple: $720.3 billion, down 13.1%.
If at first you don't succeed, there's always next year's batch of iPhones. The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple plans to launch three new smartphone models this year, and the high-end model will raise the bar with three rear cameras. Apple shares have taken a hit in recent months on reports of weak iPhone sales, and the tech bellwether confirmed the iPhone sales decline earlier this year. The trick to getting sales back on track would seem to be a matter of lowering prices instead of upping the specs, but the market groans when discounts result in contracting margins.
Check out the latest Apple earnings call transcript.
The only stock among this week's top 10 to decline over the past week is Alphabet, as Google's parent staged a minor retreat. The stock kicked off the week on a healthy note, as Pivotal Research upgraded the shares and investors in general got excited about tech during the annual Consumer Electronics Show. But the good times didn't stick. YouTube had a brief outage for some users, and then a shareholder lawsuit emerged claiming Alphabet is breaching its duty to investors by giving out juicy severance packages to former executives accused of sexual misconduct.
Check out the latest Alphabet earnings call transcript.
2. Microsoft (down from 1): $789.2 billion, up 16.7%.
Industry watcher Gartner reports that worldwide PC shipments fell 4.3% during the fourth quarter, bringing its tally for all of 2018 to a decline of 1.3%. There was a time when sluggish PC sales would send Microsoft shares reeling, especially when it was Apple and Google's Android powering the smartphones and tablets that folks were buying instead. However, Microsoft has become a much bigger force outside its flagship operating system over the years. The software powerhouse remains relevant, and that will continue to be the case as PC shipments keep fading away slowly in the coming years.
Check out the latest Microsoft earnings call transcript.
1. Amazon.com (up from 2): $802.2 billion, up 28.5%.
Amazon's next disruption could come in gaming. The Information reports that the leading online retailer is working on a video game streaming platform. Amazon is no stranger to diehard gamers, as it sells a ton of physical and digital games. It also owns Twitch, the leading live-streaming hub for video game players. Rolling out a dedicated gaming service wouldn't be a surprise, though it could potentially pose a conflict of interest with developers if the platform gives it too much power in the industry.
Check out the latest Amazon 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 (NFLX -0.46%) was the week's biggest winner, rising 13% as sentiment continues to improve for the leading premium streaming video service. The stock has only moved lower once in the past 12 trading days. The shares have soared 44% since their Christmas Eve close, and momentum builds ahead of its upcoming financial report. Netflix will announce its fourth-quarter results after Thursday's market close.
Check out the latest Netflix earnings call transcript.
Disney (DIS -1.85%) is feeling confident about how much its guests are willing to pay to visit one of its theme parks. Disneyland prices rose between 7% and 10% last Sunday, far outpacing inflation, and Disney World admissions are likely to also move higher in the coming weeks. Disney tends to bump its prices higher at least once a year, and with a 14-acre Star Wars-themed expansion coming to both resorts later this year it isn't a surprise to see the big spike in one-day ticket and annual pass pricing this month.
Check out the latest Disney earnings call transcript.
Stocks 11 through 50
11. JPMorgan Chase (JPM 0.16%): $332.2 billion, down 9.9%.
12. Merck & Co. (MRK 1.13%): $194.8 billion, up 30%.
13. Verizon (VZ 0.70%): $239.7 billion market cap, up 11.3%.
14. UnitedHealth Group (UNH 0.69%): $238.3 billion, up 9.9%.
15. Mastercard (MA -0.35%): $202.3 billion, up 21.7%.
16. Cisco (CSCO -0.70%): $195.5 billion, up 8.5%.
17. ExxonMobil (XOM -1.27%): $303.6 billion, down 17.5%.
18. Walmart (WMT 0.77%): $275.5 billion, down 5.2%.
19. Intel (INTC -1.03%): $223.3 billion, up 12.7%.
20. Netflix (NFLX -0.46%): $147.2 billion, up 55.4%.
21. Procter & Gamble (PG -3.24%): $228.6 billion, up 1.8%.
22. Coca-Cola (KO 0.23%): $201.5 billion, up 2.8%
23. Boeing (BA -0.34%): $200.4 billion, up 7.6%.
24. Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A): $249.3 billion, down 9%.
25. Novartis (NOV -1.49%): $204 billion, up 4.2%.
26. Bank of America (BAC -0.80%): $255.5 billion, down 15.1%.
27. Walt Disney: $167.7 billion, up 1.5%.
28. Chevron (CVX -0.87%): $215 billion, down 15.1%.
29. Home Depot (HD -0.35%): $202.6 billion, down 7.8%.
30. PetroChina (PTR): $190.3 billion, down 13.9%.
31. Wells Fargo (WFC -1.42%): $225.3 billion, down 24%.
32. McDonald's (MCD 0.72%): $140.6 billion, up 5.2%.
33. Oracle (ORCL -1.20%): $173.3 billion, down 1.4%.
34. PepsiCo (PEP -0.27%): $152.7 billion, down 7.5%.
35. Eli Lilly (LLY 0.97%): $114.2 billion, up 34.5%.
36. Adobe (ADBE -1.48%): $116 billion, up 25.7%.
37. Nike (NKE 0.62%): $119.7 billion, up 18.3%.
38. Abbott Laboratories (ABT -0.35%): $121.8 billion, up 17.6%.
39. China Mobile (CHL): $208.9 billion, up 2.5%.
40. Salesforce.com (CRM -0.54%): $112.9 billion, up 35.2%.
41. Amgen (AMGN -0.69%): $127.8 billion, up 10.2%.
42. Union Pacific (UNP -0.62%): $112.9 billion, up 9.2%.
43. GlaxoSmithKline (GSK -0.74%): $96.2 billion, up 14.6%
44. AT&T (T 3.26%): $224.7 billion, down 15.4%.
45. BHP Billiton (BHP -0.34%): $119.4 billion, up 6.3%.
46. Petrobras (PBR -0.24%): $94.9 billion, up 44.9%.
47. PayPal Holdings (PYPL -4.16%): $106.8 billion, up 13.7%.
48. Unilever (UL -0.69%): $140.5 billion, up 2.3%.
49. Costco (COST 1.21%): $92.7 billion, up 11.2%.
50. Taiwan Semiconductor (TSM -0.60%): $185.5 billion, down 6.2%.
Who's in and who's out
One U.K.-based drugmaker is pushing out another U.K drugmaker from the list. GlaxoSmithKline is back in our rankings, and that comes at the expense of AstraZeneca (AZN -1.24%). The two companies have similar market caps, but a week ago it was AstraZeneca that commanded the better trailing return. The tables have turned, as AstraZeneca was one of the few names from last week's list to lose value over the past five trading days.
Taiwan Semiconductor is the other new name on this week's list, just a week after being cut loose. The maker of integrated circuits and other semiconductor devices has seen its stock gain ground as tech stocks have inched higher over the past week. It's replacing Medtronic (MDT -1.05%).
Medtronic had a rough week. It had to recall is cranial software after being flagged for generating incorrect information during biopsy procedures, a pretty major malfunction with life-threatening implications. The stock also took a hit after offering up an uninspiring outlook during the J.P. Morgan Healthcare conference on Tuesday. The rough week pushed its trailing return into negative territory, a bad look for a stock that was commanding one of the lower market caps on our list last week.
One to watch
Let's talk Starbucks (SBUX -1.73%). The baron of baristas was bumped from this list a month ago. Its market cap had fallen below $80 billion, and its shares were languishing. The stock has started to show signs of life, inching higher for three straight weeks.
Starbucks still has its challenges, and it didn't help that a couple of analysts made negative moves on the stock last week. Goldman Sachs downgraded the stock to neutral, arguing that its big push into China could be challenged by the recent economic slowdown in the world's most populous nation. The downgrade also highlighted potential near-term concerns with gift cards and digital trends.
BMO Capital lowered its price target on the shares despite the stock's recent ascent, believing that the stock's rise appears to be disconnected from changes to the company's fundamentals, given the prospects for slowing growth in the future.
With investors caffeinated and some Wall Street pros going for decaf, it will be interesting to see how this battle plays out in the coming months.