You probably don't have $995 billion burning a hole in your pocket, but if you did that's how much it would take to cover the market cap of the five most valuable publicly traded consumer goods stocks. That's a lot of money, but these five companies make a lot of money.
Let's consider the five consumer-facing giants, with market caps provided by S&P Capital IQ.
Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT): $267 billion
The world's largest retailer got its start as a five-and-dime store in Arkansas, but these days it is a global empire of namesake discount department stores and Sam's Club warehouse stores that topped $476 billion in sales last year.
Wal-Mart has struggled to grow sales at the individual store level for the past two years. Despite its reputation for low prices, customers are trading up to more fashionable retailers. Wal-Mart, though, might be starting to turn the corner. It reported encouraging quarterly results on Thursday with a 0.5% uptick in comparable-store sales. That's not a lot, but it ends a streak of seven consecutive quarters of negative comps. Store traffic was still slightly negative, but that also means the average shopper is spending more. It's a baby step forward for Wal-Mart.
Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG): $239 billion
It's hard to stroll through a supermarket aisle without coming across some of Procter & Gamble's brands. Tide laundry detergent, Pampers diapers, and Crest toothpaste are just some of its many killer consumer goods.
Procter & Gamble isn't afraid to unload marquee brands, either. It sold off Pringles two years ago, and recently delivered its Duracell battery business to Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway. This is a slow and steady business: Procter & Gamble sees organic sales growth in the low-to-mid single-digit range in fiscal 2015, with core earnings rising in the middle single-digits.
Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO): $187 billion
We're not drinking soft drinks the way we used to. Industry watcher Beverage Digest has tracked nine straight years of declining soda sales in this country, and the rest of the world hasn't been much better for Coca-Cola.
Coca-Cola got the hint. It has expanded into various nonsoda beverage lines over the years, and in 2014 alone has taken minority stakes in leading single-serve coffee and carbonated energy drink companies. These positions join a product line that includes Minute Maid and Odwalla juices, Fuze beverages, and Vitaminwater drinking water, making it less vulnerable to the trend away from flavored carbonated beverages.
Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS): $155 billion
The family entertainment giant has spent the past few years cutting 10-figure deals to expand its catalog of entertainment properties. The Pixar and Marvel deals are already paying off, and the more recent Lucasfilm acquisition should reward Disney handsomely when Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens hits theaters during next year's holiday season.
This media juggernaut is firing on all cylinders. ESPN continues to be the dominant sports network. Disney's theme parks reportedly attracted more than 132 million guests worldwide last year. Its Marvel properties produced this year's two highest-grossing movies. And let's not even get into what the success of Frozen in 2013 has done to heat up its already dominant position in theatrical animation and consumer products.
PepsiCo (NYSE:PEP): $147 billion
PepsiCo didn't wait for soft drink sales to peak to start diversifying. The pop star behind the world's second-largest soda brand watches over Gatorade thirst quenchers, Frito-Lay salty snacks, Quaker oatmeal, and Tropicana juices.
The collection of household names has helped PepsiCo offset the sting of sliding soda sales. The stock hit a new all-time high this month.
PepsiCo is growing slowly. Revenue inched a mere 2% higher to $17.2 billion in its latest quarter. However, a welcome combination of $1 billion in annualized productivity savings, stock buybacks, and a lower effective tax rate helped send core earnings per share 10% higher. There is life at PepsiCo even after the fizz goes flat.
Rick Munarriz owns shares of Walt Disney. The Motley Fool recommends Berkshire Hathaway, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, PepsiCo, and Walt Disney and has the following options: long January 2016 $37 calls on Coca-Cola and short January 2016 $37 puts on Coca-Cola. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.