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.
Microsoft (MSFT -3.17%) has been a non-factor in mobile operating systems, but this past week it wrote its own mobile-OS obituary. The software behemoth is now recommending that anyone still running Windows 10's mobile platform -- once known as Windows Phone -- switch to Apple (AAPL -2.98%) or Android smartphones.
Microsoft will no longer support Windows 10 mobile with free security and other updates. Mr. Softy isn't going to bow out of mobile entirely, though. It will continue to support its own apps on iOS and Android. The problem is, running a platform is a numbers game, and Microsoft-flavored smartphones just never gained traction.
Microsoft is still getting the last laugh here, however. The company's other software and hardware businesses are thriving, and its market cap surpassed Apple's earlier this year.
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. Walmart (WMT -1.41%) (new): $283.9 billion, down 6.3% over the past year.
The leading retail chain squeezes into the top 10 for the first time. The chain of discount department stores and warehouse clubs continues to resonate with consumers through low prices and high turnover of merchandise. Walmart made waves earlier in the week, when CNBC reported that it was abandoning plans to roll out its own streaming service, but a Variety article followed later in the week denying the report.
Check out the latest Walmart earnings call transcript.
9. Alibaba (BABA -1.66%) (up from 10): $407 billion market cap, down 14.8%.
China's leading online marketplace is showing signs of life after a rough second half of last year. Alibaba stock is up nearly 15% in 2019. The past week kicked off with HSBC analyst Binnie Wong boosting her price target from $177 to $190, but it ended on a cautious note. Bloomberg reported that Alibaba is paring back on expenses in response to the potentially slowing economy. It's reportedly holding off on hiring and travel spending.
Check out the latest Alibaba earnings call transcript.
8. Facebook (META -5.20%): (up from 9): $431.2 billion market cap, down 16.6%.
The social-networking leader has paid the price for its data privacy scandals. Usage growth has stalled, and the stock continues to be the weakest performer over the past year among the FANG components. Now it may have a tangible price to pay.The Washington Post is reporting that U.S. regulators have met to discuss a record fine for Facebook for failing to protect the privacy of the personal data of its users. Facebook's cash-rich balance sheet will be able to easily hand down any financial penalty, but it will make it that much harder to restore its reputation.
Check out the latest Facebook earnings call transcript.
7. Pfizer (PFE -2.35%): $245.8 billion, up 15%.
The pharmaceuticals giant kicked off the past trading week with encouraging news. It received FDA acceptance of its new drug application for tafamidis, a potential treatment for transthyretin amyloid cardiomyopathy. Tafamidis may treat a rare and under-diagnosed condition, and it remains the only option that's cleared a late-phase clinical trial for its efficacy, safety, and patient tolerability.
Check out the latest Pfizer earnings call transcript.
6. Visa (V -2.67%): $305.3 billion, up 12.5%.
If investors have to choose between paper or plastic, the better choice may be the latter. I'm talking not about the environment but about swiping plastic instead of paying with paper money, something that's becoming the more popular choice. Visa is "cashing" in on the trend. It's the third most valuable company to have posted a double-digit percentage gain over the past year.
Check out the latest Visa earnings call transcript.
5. Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A -1.32%): $503.4 billion, down 4.2%.
Sometimes a week can make all the difference. A week ago we were lamenting how Warren Buffett's classic company was sorely underperforming the market in 2019. The stock was down 4% year to date. A strong week with the shares moving higher in each of the past four trading days now finds Berkshire Hathaway in positive territory, and it's now trading nearly 2% higher in 2019. It was a great week for financial-services stocks overall, with several banking giants posting double-digit percentage gains, and Buffett has historically kept an overweight position in financial stocks.
4. Apple: $741.7 billion, down 12.5%.
The anecdotes of a rough holiday quarter at Apple have been trickling in for weeks, and the fears were confirmed when the tech titan itself warned that revenue declined for its fiscal first quarter, which ended last month. The bad news keeps coming. China's Foxconn -- Apple's assembler of choice of its iconic iPhone -- is reportedly cutting 50,000 seasonal workers, suggesting that Apple continues to scale back on its smartphone orders.
Check out the latest Apple earnings call transcript.
It took the Bird Box Challenge to finally get Google's YouTube to finally crack down on some of the dangerous behavior on its site. The leading video-sharing site is now banning videos featuring dangerous challenges and pranks. Of course, policy and enforcing a policy are often entirely different things in the wild world of Alphabet's popular subsidiary.
Check out the latest Alphabet earnings call transcript.
2. Microsoft: $826.9 billion, up 19.5%.
"If you build it, they will come." The old Field of Dreams mantra is apparently alive and well at Microsoft, as the software giant announced that it plans to invest $500 million to build affordable housing in Seattle. Pointing out that the Puget Sound area has seen a 21% uptick in jobs since 2011 but only a 13% increase in housing construction, Microsoft hopes that taking the lead in funding affordable housing will help cool the real estate market that's currently the country's sixth most expensive. Whether this will make it easier for Microsoft to hire away talent remains to be seen, but you can be sure that real estate speculators who recently bought area properties looking to flip them for a profit aren't going to be happy.
Check out the latest Microsoft earnings call transcript.
1. Amazon.com (AMZN -5.14%): $829.4 billion, up 31.2%.
Amazon turned heads a couple of years ago when it acquired Whole Foods Market. The organic grocer was struggling at the time, and it was starting to roll out 365, a concept offering more affordably priced organic grocery items. Amazon has been shaving down the generous markups at Whole Foods since taking over, and that's apparently making 365 pretty irrelevant. Whole Foods CEO John Mackey is telling employees it won't be opening any new 365 locations, keeping the store count at just the dozen existing stores. In short, Whole Foods Market is the new 365.
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 -5.04%) had all of the ups and downs of a serialized drama on the streaming platform, leaving investors back on the couch where they started by the end of the week. Shares moved higher earlier in the week, when the company announced that it will increase the monthly rates for its stateside subscribers by as much as 18%. Then it nearly gave back all of those gains when it posted its fourth-quarter results.
Netflix fell short of its earlier revenue forecast, something that may explain why Netflix chose to raise rates just ahead of the report. Investors upset by the slowing top-line growth can take comfort in knowing that Netflix will make more per subscriber in the future.
Netflix remains one of the market's hottest stocks over the past year among large-cap stocks. There's no company commanding a larger market cap than Netflix at nearly $150 billion with a better return than the 53.9% gain it's delivered over the past 52 weeks. The stock may have essentially gone nowhere last week, but that's certainly not indicative of where it will be in the future.
Check out the latest Netflix earnings call transcript.
Stocks 11 through 50
11. Johnson & Johnson (JNJ -2.84%): $350.5 billion, down 11%.
12. JPMorgan Chase (JPM -0.48%): $347.8 billion, down 7.7%.
13. Merck & Co. (MRK -2.67%): $197.3 billion, up 24.1%.
14. UnitedHealth Group (UNH 0.55%): $255.4 billion, up 9.2%.
15. Verizon (VZ -0.98%): $235.9 billion market cap, up 10.7%.
16. Mastercard (NYSE: MA): $208.6 billion, up 22.1%.
17. Intel (INTC -2.20%): $224.5 billion, up 10.6%.
18. Netflix (NFLX -5.04%): $147.9 billion, up 53.9%.
19. Cisco (CSCO -1.62%): $ 202.5 billion, up 9%.
20. ExxonMobil (XOM 2.77%): $309 billion, down 16.5%.
21. Procter & Gamble (PG -1.63%): $227.8 billion, up 1.4%.
22. Boeing (BA -0.01%): $207.1 billion, up 7.2%.
23. Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A): $250.4 billion, down 6.4%.
24. Novartis (NOV 3.77%): $206 billion, up 7.1%.
25. Bank of America (BAC -0.28%): $283.3 billion, down 6.9%.
26. Coca-Cola (KO -1.00%): $202.7 billion, up 1.6%
27. Walt Disney (DIS -0.71%): $165.6 billion, up 0.6%.
28. Chevron (CVX 1.61%): $218.5 billion, down 13.1%.
29. Home Depot (HD -4.44%): $202.8 billion, down 9.5%.
30. PetroChina (PTR 2.37%): $189.2 billion, down 13.4%.
31. Wells Fargo (WFC -0.15%): $229.1 billion, down 21.8%.
32. McDonald's (MCD -1.70%): $140.7 billion, up 4.6%.
33. Oracle (ORCL -2.60%): $176.8 billion, down 1.9%.
34. PepsiCo (PEP -1.41%): $155.4 billion, down 7.5%.
35. Eli Lilly (LLY -2.95%): $114.6 billion, up 35.9%.
36. Adobe (ADBE -4.05%): $120.8 billion, up 26.2%.
37. Nike (NKE -6.99%): $126.6 billion, up 25.5%.
38. Abbott Laboratories (ABT -1.93%): $125.4 billion, up 20.9%.
39. China Mobile (CHL): $211.1 billion, down 0.7%.
40. Salesforce.com (CRM -5.43%): $116.7 billion, up 36.4%.
41. Amgen (AMGN -0.55%): $129.9 billion, up 8.9%.
42. Union Pacific (UNP -0.23%): $116.7 billion, up 12.8%.
43. GlaxoSmithKline (GSK -0.80%): $95.1 billion, up 10.7%
44. AT&T (T -0.82%): $225.3 billion, down 16.7%.
45. BHP Billiton (BHP 0.88%): $120.1 billion, up 7.6%.
46. Petrobras (PBR 0.93%): $95.7 billion, up 39.4%.
47. PayPal Holdings (PYPL -5.42%): $107.4 billion, up 9.9%.
48. Unilever (UL -1.46%): $136.1 billion, up 1.1%.
49. Costco (COST -2.73%): $94.1 billion, up 11.5%.
50. Citigroup (C -1.30%) (new): $150 billion, down 18.4%
Who's in and who's out
Citigroup is a household name in the financial-services industry, and it finally makes the cut, as banking stocks generally moved higher for the week. The company behind Citi and other banking-related subsidiaries was one of only two stocks on our list to deliver double-digit percentage gains. Citigroup soared 11.3% for the week, moving higher every single trading day. Bank of America was the other big winner, up 12.6%.
Citigroup had been one of the larger companies not to make the cut, held back by a rough trailing return.Things are still problematic, given its 18.4% decline over the past year, but momentum is on its side again.
Citigroup replaces Taiwan Semiconductor (TSM -1.77%). The Taiwanese maker of integrated circuits and other semiconductor devices keeps dancing in and out of the list.
One to watch
Let's talk about American Express (AXP -1.46%). There's been better than average coverage of financial stocks this week, but American Express is the only credit card behemoth not on this list. It's smaller than Visa and Mastercard, with its $85.1 billion market cap. It's also been underperforming its more valuable peers. The stock is up just 0.6% over the past year, a contrast to the double-digit percentage trailing gains on Visa and Mastercard.
American Express reported fresh financial results on Wednesday. Investors are concerned about slowing growth, as investors spoiled by low double-digit growth in the amount AmEx cardholders are spending are seeing that decelerate to 8% currency-adjusted gains in its latest quarter. Most companies would love to see that kind of growth, but on Wall Street it's all about managing expectations.
American Express is doing a good job of refreshing its flagship charge cards, beefing up the benefits while also increasing annual fees in the process. The push began late last year and will continue through early 2019. We'll see if its plastic truly lives up to its iconic slogan of not leaving home without it.