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.
One of this past week's biggest winners was Apple (AAPL 1.60%). The consumer-tech giant announced its fiscal first-quarter results, and investors were relieved that things could've been worse.
Apple isn't at its best right now. It suffered a 15% decline in iPhone revenue, and since smartphone average selling prices keep inching higher, we're talking about a much larger drop in the number of iPhones sold. Apple also continues to struggle in China, once an important part of the bullish buy thesis for the stock.
The good news is that its services revenue continues to be a bright spot. Apple is also experiencing a surge in iPad popularity, coming through with its strongest growth in tablets in nearly six years. There are still some near-term concerns here, but the out-of-favor stock managed to clean up nicely for a very important earnings report.
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 0.37%): $272.7 billion, down 11.1% over the past year.
The world's largest retailer turned heads last summer, when it closed on its $16 billion purchase of a controlling stake in Indian e-tail giant Flipkart, but now it may be paying an even bigger price. New foreign investment restrictions in India could limit e-commerce sites from selling items by companies that they have an equity interest in or that demand platform exclusivity. Flipkart seemed like a smart way for Walmart to scale its online business in the world's second most populous market, but now some are wondering how many products Flipkart will have to stop selling and if Walmart will have to write down the value of its investment.
9. Pfizer (PFE): $247.9 billion, up 16.4%.
The pharmaceuticals giant beat Wall Street forecasts on both ends of the income statement, but the guidance it initiated for the year ahead wasn't as kind. Pfizer sees a profit per share of $2.82 to $2.92 on $52 billion to $54 billion in revenue for all of 2019. Analysts were modeling earnings of $3.04 a share on $54.4 billion in revenue. However, the mixed showing didn't stop at least two firms from upgrading the stock on favorable product news.
8. Alibaba (BABA 4.34%): $435.4 billion market cap, down 12.6%.
China's leading online marketplace continues to grow in popularity, and Alibaba posted solid growth in its latest quarter. Despite fears of an economic slowdown in China, consumers are still flocking to online outlets to find great deals. Alibaba now has 636 million annual active customers on its platform, 35 million more than it had just three months earlier.
7. Facebook (META 2.98%): $472.9 billion market cap, down 14.2%.
The social-networking leader experienced the largest stock gain among the top 10 this past week, soaring 11.2% after the company came through with a better-than-expected quarter. Beating revenue and profit goals is certainly healthy news, but the real gem is that active user numbers are growing sequentially again. Facebook's daily and monthly active users increased 9% on a year-over-year basis, and there was also improvement from the third quarter's showing. Other successes included topping 500 million daily active users for Instagram Stories and more than 90 million small businesses using its products.
6. Visa (V 2.48%): $307.9 billion, up 11.5%.
The swipes keep coming for the world's leading credit card company, which came through with better-than-expected financial results for its fiscal first quarter on Wednesday. We're still seeing low double-digit growth at Visa, as payment volume and the number of processed transactions both rose 11% for the holiday-containing quarter.
5. Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A 0.81%): $515.2 billion, down 3.7%.
There was no material news out of Warren Buffett's investing empire, but it was a good week to have Apple as its largest stock portfolio holding. Apple shares rose 5.6% higher for the week, helping boost the value of Berkshire Hathaway's stock portfolio.
4. Alphabet (GOOG 0.81%) (GOOGL 0.69%) (down from 3): $775.2 billion, down 5.3%.
It will be Alphabet's turn to step up to the earnings podium on Monday. Analysts see the global search-engine champ clocking in at nearly $39 billion for the holiday-containing fourth quarter, 21% ahead of where it landed a year earlier. Earnings growth is modeled at a slower 12% clip, but that's not a deal-breaker. Google is making big bets on projects outside its high-margin online advertising stronghold, and those aren't expected to pay off on the bottom line anytime soon.
3. Apple (AAPL 1.60%) (up from 4): $785.2 billion, down 0.8%.
There are now more than 900 million iPhone users in the world, a big number in theory but a complicated problem for Apple. This past week's earnings report inadvertently confirmed that the lion's share of its shrinking iPhone sales are coming from existing users who are upgrading earlier models. A loyal audience is great, but with Apple smartphones growing more expensive, it will be that much harder to woo new users who are satisfied with much cheaper platforms.
2. Microsoft (MSFT 1.28%) (down from 2): $788.6 billion, up 9%.
The two top companies on this list saw their share prices slide after they posted poorly received quarterly results, but Microsoft took the bigger hit, and now it's no longer on top. The software behemoth's fiscal second quarter was in line with expectations, but that's not going to be good enough for a company that had spoiled investors by blowing through Wall Street targets with ease over the past year.
1. Amazon.com (AMZN 1.82%) (up from 2): $798.8 billion, up 17%.
The world's leading online retailer also stepped up with fresh financials, and investors weren't impressed. Amazon came through with a strong quarter, but uninspiring guidance for the current period weighed on the enthusiasm. Several analysts lowered their price targets on the stock following the report. There was sluggishness at Whole Foods, and there are concerns about its operations in India, given the new restrictions that are also stinging Walmart.
Check out all our earnings call transcripts.
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.
The Golden Arches are making the most of improving work trends and the explosion of food-delivery services, as McDonald's (MCD 0.97%) posted blowout financial results on Wednesday. Global same-restaurant sales inched 4.4% higher.
Closer to home, McDonald's is cashing in on its affiliation with Uber Eats, making its fast-food menu more easily accessible to folks willing to pay for the convenience of home and office delivery. McDonald's has always had a strong breakfast game, and that's benefiting from low unemployment numbers as commuters flock to its drive-through lanes in the morning.
Stocks 11 through 50
11. UnitedHealth Group (UNH 1.31%): $258.5 billion, up 14.2%.
12. Johnson & Johnson (JNJ -0.34%): $359.9 billion, down 4.2%.
13. JPMorgan Chase (JPM 1.38%): $345.4 billion, down 11.1%.
14. Merck & Co. (MRK 0.47%): $198.8 billion, up 27.7%.
15. Mastercard (MA 1.60%): $220.4 billion, up 23.6%.
16. Procter & Gamble (PG 1.02%): $243.8 billion, up 13.5%.
17. Verizon (VZ 0.25%): $225.4 billion market cap, up 0.5%.
18. Intel (INTC -0.99%): $219.1 billion, up 2.3%.
19. Netflix (NFLX 2.00%): $148.4 billion, up 28.2%.
20. Cisco (CSCO 0.14%): $212.8 billion, up 13.5%.
21. ExxonMobil (XOM 1.16%): $321.7 billion, down 14.8%.
22. Bank of America (BAC 0.76%): $274.4 billion, down 12.7%.
23. Boeing (BA 1.10%): $220.4 billion, up 8.5%.
24. Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A): $255.1 billion, down 1.5%.
25. Novartis (NOV 5.26%): $202.9 billion, up 4.4%.
26. Coca-Cola (KO 0.57%): $207.3 billion, down 2.6%.
27. Walt Disney (DIS 0.72%): $165.9 billion, up 0.7%.
28. Chevron (CVX 1.02%): $226.2 billion, down 5.7%.
29. Home Depot (HD 1.74%): $208.3 billion, down 7.8%.
30. PetroChina (PTR): $190.1 billion, down 16.9%.
31. Wells Fargo (WFC 0.63%): $224.1 billion, down 25.3%.
32. AT&T (T 0.51%): $218.5 billion, down 23.4%.
33. McDonald's (MCD 0.97%): $136.2 billion, up 3.2%.
34. Oracle (ORCL 0.05%): $182.4 billion, down 1.6%.
35. PepsiCo (PEP 0.61%): $158.4 billion, down 6.7%.
36. Eli Lilly (LLY 1.64%): $121.9 billion, up 46.7%.
37. Salesforce.com (CRM -4.69%): $119.2 billion, up 38.3%.
38. Adobe (ADBE 2.15%): $120.7 billion, up 24.1%.
39. Nike (NKE -1.55%): $128.3 billion, up 20.5%.
40. Union Pacific (UNP 1.64%): $117.6 billion, up 20.6%.
41. Abbott Laboratories (ABT 0.80%): $127.1 billion, up 16.4%.
42. China Mobile (CHL): $217 billion, up 1.4%.
43. Amgen (AMGN -2.89%): $117.9 billion, up 0.8%.
44. GlaxoSmithKline (GSK 0.59%): $95.6 billion, up 13.3%.
45. BHP Billiton (BHP 2.71%): $128.6 billion, up 14.2%.
46. Petrobras (PBR 3.81%): $100.7 billion, up 25.7%.
47. PayPal Holdings (PYPL 1.71%): $105.7 billion, up 14.8%.
48. Unilever (UL 0.36%): $141.5 billion, up 0.3%.
49. BP (BP 3.00%): $138.3 billion, up 4%.
50. Starbucks (SBUX -0.12%): $84.7 billion, up 21.6%.
Who's in and who's out
BP and Starbucks are cracking into this week's list, with BP making the cut for the first time since this feature began. BP is the London-based gas and oil giant that's generating more than $220 billion in annual sales, and Starbucks claws its way back onto our list after posting big gains. The coffee king commands the lowest market cap currently on the list, but it's hard to ignore the stock's 21.6% pop over the past 52 weeks.
Toyota (TM 3.32%) and Costco (COST 0.20%) are the two names that fell out. Toyota had a rough January. Sales declined by 6.6% in the U.S., tripped up by sluggish demand for its Camry and Prius models. Toyota's Prius hybrid had its worst month of stateside sales in years.
Costco is holding up relatively well, but it had the lowest market cap on the list. Its single-digit gain over the past year was no match for Starbucks and its caffeinated pop.
One to watch
One of the large caps that have yet to crack this ranked list is General Electric (GE 3.09%). A few years ago, it would've been blasphemous to not include GE in any conversation of the most valuable companies, but GE has hit hard times lately.
GE's market cap was closing in on $600 billion during the dot-com bubble days, and even a dozen years ago General Electric was second to only ExxonMobil in terms of market cap. The stock has taken a beating in recent years, and over the past year its value has plunged 36% to fall below $100 billion.
The stock surrendered roughly three-quarters of its value through 2017 and 2018, but the market's welcome reaction to its latest quarter on Thursday could be the first sign of a turnaround. There are still problems at GE, but strength in its aviation business and signs of bottoming out elsewhere make GE a stock worth watching again.