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.
There was a time when retailers stayed in their lanes. Traditional brick-and-mortar chains gobbled up the early risers on Black Friday, while Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN) and its less sophisticated peers planted their digital flags on Cyber Monday. A lot has changed, of course. Amazon was all over Black Friday, and it's been offering Black Friday Deals since the month began.
The market's been swinging a bag of coal around lately, and sometimes the best way to end a Wall Street dry spell is to see that consumers are out buying stuff, even when the same can't be said about investors. That's where Amazon can step in.
The world's leading online retailer has been offering complimentary shipping on all orders of Amazon-warehoused goods since early November, something it typically reserves for its Prime shoppers and folks placing at least $25 in orders. The sharply correcting market needs a hero. Let's hope Amazon can have its cape delivered on time this season.
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. Verizon (NYSE: VZ) (new):$242.3 billion market cap, up 24.5% over the past year.
The country's largest wireless carrier finally cracks into the Top 10, taking over Facebook's slot. Verizon's growth has been slow but steady, as it continues to build on its base of wireless customers. Revenue grew only 3% in its latest quarter, but its market leadership and healthy 4% yield have made the stock a big winner over the past year. There's only one other stock in this Top 10 that's come through with a heartier return over the past 12 months.
9. Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ): $381.5 billion, up 3.6%.
A big challenge for pharmaceutical companies is the limited patent lives of their flagship drugs. Companies spend years and a lot of money trying to get a treatment through different layers of clinical trials, and the few drugs that do make a difference have a limited shelf life of exclusivity. For example, Johnson & Johnson fell short trying to save patent protection for its prostate cancer drug, Zytiga, as the U.S. Court of Appeals for has rejected the pharmaceutical giant's request to prevent generic versions of the drug from entering the U.S. market. Johnson & Johnson has a deep enough product portfolio of treatments and consumer products to offset the hit on a single product, but it still leaves a mark.
8. UnitedHealth (NYSE: UNH): $251.7 billion, up 23.9%.
The healthcare provider has its analyst day set for Tuesday morning, when it will detail its recent performance as well as its outlook for the year ahead. UnitedHealth will also showcase some of its new tech and services, as well as conduct seminars tackling key trends in healthcare.
7. JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM): $354.6 billion, up 8.1%.
The consumer and investment banking behemoth became the latest party to settle up on claims that it violated antitrust laws. JPMorgan Chase and Citi will pay $182.5 million to settle claims that they conspired to rig a widely tracked European interest-rate benchmark. Five different banks have now reached $491.5 million of settlements related to the case.
6. Visa (NYSE: V): $293.2 billion, up 19.9%.
The top dog when it comes to credit cards is Visa, and it's cashing in as consumers continue to choose plastic over paper. Visa recently wrapped up fiscal 2018 in strong fashion, clocking in with double-digit percentage gains in both the number of transactions it processes and payment volume.
5. Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL): $714.2 billion, down 2.1%.
Another member of the FANG family has fallen. Google's parent company now joins Facebook in delivering a negative stock return over the past year. But it's not standing still, even though that's what the stock has essentially done over the past 12 months. Reuters reported early in the week that Google is investing $690 million in a new data center that will open in Denmark in three years. You're more than welcome to google the term "stagnancy" on Google, but Alphabet isn't likely to turn up as a leading result.
4. Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A): $509.7 billion, up 12.9%.
Warren Buffett is 88 years old, and he's showing no signs of slowing down. But he won't last forever, and that's why every so often investors begin to wonder about the succession plan at Berkshire Hathaway. Buffett's right-hand man has been Charlie Munger, but he's also no spring chicken. The investment giant continues to do right by its investors, but there will come a time when new blood will be making the big calls.
3. Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) (down from No. 1): $817.6 billion, down 1.3%
It's been some rough sledding for the world's most valuable company lately. This past week kicked off with a report in the South China Morning Post, detailing how Apple has cut orders from two Chinese component suppliers. That's the latest indication that the lower-priced iPhone XR that recently rolled out is struggling to gain traction. Even though it's cheaper than the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max that came out a few weeks earlier, the inferior specs aren't giving smartphone owners enough of an incentive to upgrade their devices.
2. Amazon.com (up from No. 3): $734.5 billion, up 29.9%.
The leading online retailer keeps making its Prime loyalty shopping plan more valuable. Prime customers get a wide array of digital goodies, but now Amazon is taking its perks into the real world. Amazon is teaming up with Warner Bros. Pictures to give Prime members the chance to buy tickets for an advance screening of Aquaman a week before its national debut. Amazon's hoping to be a superhero for shoppers this holiday weekend between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but if it fails on that front, it can at least deliver one superhero early.
1. Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) (up from No. 2): $791.2 billion, up 24%.
After three weeks of Apple on top, we finally see the first lead change. Microsoft is now less than $30 billion in market cap away from Apple, and now that Apple has fallen into negative territory with its 12-month return, we see Mr. Softy holding up better as a market darling.
Microsoft went shopping again over the past week. It acquired FSLogix, a next-gen app-provisioning platform that makes programs more efficient by reducing the resources, time, and labor that go into supporting virtualization. FSLogix will immediately come in handy in beefing up Microsoft's Office 365 cloud-based software suite, and this is probably just the beginning.
"You come at the king, you best not miss," as the iconic quote from The Wire goes. Microsoft came at Apple on this list, and it didn't miss.
The rank and file
We'll get to No. 11 through No. 50 in a moment, but first, let's look at some other top-50 stocks that are making waves -- for better or worse.
Daiwa downgraded shares of Walmart (NYSE: WMT) on Tuesday. It's been a rough run for the world's largest retailer since posting mixed financial results a week earlier. The stock declined for seven consecutive trading days before marginally bouncing back on Wednesday, and the head-scratcher is that it wasn't a bad report that triggered the slide. Earnings beat expectations for the quarter. Sales did fall slightly short, but Walmart boosted the language of its guidance for comparable-store sales. It now expects to clock in with comps of "at least" 3% for the entire fiscal year, instead of "around" 3%. It seems investors just aren't open to sticking "around" Walmart.
Stocks 11 through 50
11. Facebook (NASDAQ: FB): $387.6 billion, down 27.2%
12. Pfizer (NYSE: PFE): $249.4 billion, up 21.8%
13. Walmart (NYSE: WMT): $278.5 billion, down 1.4%
14. Merck (NYSE: MRK): $194.2 billion, up 37.7%
15. Alibaba Group (NYSE: BABA): $386.6 billion, down 20.8%
16. Bank of America Corporation (NYSE: BAC): $264.7 billion, up 1.2%
17. ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM): $319.6 billion, down 6.9%
18. Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO): $200.3 billion, up 22.2%
19. Mastercard (NYSE: MA): $188.6 billion, up 20.7%
20. Boeing (NYSE: BA): $177.4 billion, up 17.8%
21. Netlix (NASDAQ: NFLX): $112.9 billion, up 31.8%
22. Disney (NYSE: DIS): $166.9 billion, up 9.1%
23. Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG): $228.1 billion, up 3.6%
24. Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO): $208.7 billion, up 6.3%
25. Intel (NASDAQ: INTC): $212.4 billion, up 4.2%
26. Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE: RDS-A): $244.0 billion, down 1.2%
27. Novartis (NYSE: NOV): $203.7 billion, up 5.2%
28. PetroChina (NYSE: PTR): $192.6 billion, up 1.5%
29. Home Depot (NYSE: HD): $190.7 billion, down 2%
30. Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA): $170.1 billion, up 2.7%
31. Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC): $244.4 billion, down 4.1%
32. McDonald's (NYSE: MCD): $140.3 billion, up 7.6%
33. Oracle (NYSE: ORCL): $184.5 billion, up 0.2%
34. Chevron (NYSE: CVX): $217.1 billion, up 2%
35. PepsiCo (NASDAQ: PEP): $162.9 billion, up 0.3%
36. Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY): $110.9 billion, up 34.9%
37. Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT): $119.6 billion, up 22.1%
38. Adobe (NASDAQ: ADBE): $110.1 billion, up 23.3%
39. Nike (NYSE: NKE): $113.5 billion, up 21%
40. BHP Billiton (NYSE: BHP): $121.4 billion, up 12.8%
41. AT&T (NYSE: T): $213.7 billion, down 15.8%
42. Medtronic (NYSE: MDT): $123.9 billion, up 11.7%
43. Union Pacific (NYSE: UNP): $105.8 billion. up 21.8%
44. Costco (NASDAQ: COST): $96.4 billion, up 27.6%
45. Twenty-First Century Fox (NASDAQ: FOXA): $90.6 billion, up 59.9%
46. Salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM): $92.3 billion, up 14.2%
47. Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN): $122.7 billion, up 13.3%
48. Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX): $81.5 billion, up 15%
49. China Mobile (NYSE: CHL): $198.6 billion, down 4%
50. Toyota (NYSE: TM): $173.2 billion, down 3.6%
Who's in and who's out
We have one new name cracking the list this week, with Toyota Motors revving up to claim the final spot in the top 50. The Japanese automaker is the world's most valuable automaker by market capitalization. The stock is trading nearly 4% lower over the past year, but its $173.2 billion market cap makes it larger than 18 other names on our list. Toyota is the juggernaut behind some of the best-selling cars in this country, and it expects to sell 8.9 million new cars and trucks this fiscal year.
Toyota bumps PayPal Holdings (NASDAQ: PYPL) off the list. PayPal has come a long way since eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY) spun it off, and it's still growing nicely. Analysts see revenue rising 18% this year and by 16% come 2019. However, PayPal was one of the five stocks on the list with market caps below $100 billion -- and it was the only one that wasn't brandishing double-digit percentage gains over the past year.
The recent market pullback has wiped away nearly all of PayPal's gains over the past year. PayPal has a lot of competition these days among tech-savvy transaction-settling options, but it does own one of the more poplar disruptors in Venmo. It should be back on this list sooner rather than later once it can get its stock moving in the right direction again.
One to watch
Walgreens Boots Alliance (NASDAQ: WBA) is one of the names bubbling beneath the surface on our list. The drugstore giant's market cap of $76.7 billion would make it the smallest name on our list, but a reasonable 13.3% gain over the past year merits consideration.
Walgreens has had a wild run over the past couple of years. Three years ago, it struck a deal to acquire Rite Aid (NYSE: RAD). When antitrust regulators made it clear that they wouldn't be approving the deal, the companies struck an asset sale compromise in which Rite Aid would sell nearly half of its drugstores and three distribution centers to Walgreens in a transaction worth nearly $4.4 billion.
There are plenty of headwinds facing the drugstore industry these days. There are challenges with insurance company reimbursement rates and percolating sentiment for socializing medicine among young voters. Let's also not forget that Amazon, the mother of all disruptors, is making moves into this space. We began this week's stock rankings with a hope that Amazon might save us from the swooning market this holiday shopping season, but established drugstore chains aren't exactly viewing Jeff Bezos as a savior. Walgreens is a survivor, and it's beating the market over the past year. It's only right to keep a closer eye on it to make sure it stays that way.
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John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Teresa Kersten, an employee of LinkedIn, a Microsoft subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Rick Munarriz owns shares of Apple, AT&T, China Mobile, Netflix, Rite Aid, and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Adobe Systems, Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Mastercard, National Oilwell Varco, Netflix, PayPal Holdings, Salesforce.com, Starbucks, and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Johnson & Johnson, Medtronic, Microsoft, Oracle, and Visa and has the following options: long January 2020 $150 calls on Apple, short January 2020 $155 calls on Apple, short February 2019 $185 calls on Home Depot, long January 2020 $110 calls on Home Depot, short January 2019 $140 calls on Johnson & Johnson, short December 2018 $52 calls on Oracle, long January 2020 $30 calls on Oracle, and short January 2019 $82 calls on PayPal Holdings. The Motley Fool recommends Amgen, Comcast, Costco Wholesale, eBay, Home Depot, Nike, Union Pacific, UnitedHealth Group, and Verizon Communications. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.