U.S. technology companies dominate rankings of the world’s largest companies as never before.
Lifted by a 10 percent jump since the start of the year, Facebook Inc. just leapfrogged Exxon Mobil Corp. and Berkshire Hathaway Inc. to become the fourth-most valuable company, with a market capitalization of $330 billion. The social network joins Google’s parent Alphabet Inc., Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp. atop the rankings, the first time the top four are all American tech firms, according to data going back to 2000 compiled by Bloomberg.
American computer and Internet companies now top a list that has historically been more diverse, spanning everything from Chinese banks to European energy and American industrial firms. Their presence has been bolstered by growing demand for mobile phones and web-based services just as the commodity rout hurt companies from Royal Dutch Shell Plc to PetroChina Co.
“If you look at the way the globe is evolving from an economic perspective, it’s evolving around all things technology,” Malcolm Polley, who oversees $1.3 billion as president and chief investment officer at Stewart Capital Advisors LLC in Indiana, Pennsylvania. “Technology will drive how the world does things and looks at things. And the biggest and fastest growing tech companies are U.S.-based.”
U.S. firms have been moving up the megacap ladder at an accelerated pace since Apple first eclipsed Exxon Mobil Corp. as the largest company in 2011. In dollar terms, American companies now occupy the top 10 spots, with technology accounting for half of them. Amazon.com Inc., an online retailer with a market value of $264 billion, is ranked No. 9.
At the end of 2011, three non-U.S. companies were in the top five — PetroChina, Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. and Shell. Apple was the only tech firm in the list.
In the latest switch of positions, Alphabet just passed Apple as the largest with a market value of $546 billion after reporting higher profit and sales fueled by a booming advertising business. A year ago, the Internet services company was less than half that of the iPhone maker and the gap has been narrowing as investors turned less enthusiastic about Apple’s smartphone business.
Facebook’s rise into the top five came less than four years after its initial public offering. Shares of the social network company exceeded the $250 billion threshold last July, making it the first company in the S&P 500 to breach the level so quickly. At $330 billion, Facebook now eclipses General Electric Co., which ranked No. 1 in the world in the early 2000s.