As far as defining what a great company is, you can’t go wrong with citing one of the 10 most profitable companies in the world in 2017 as an example.
Earning a lot of revenue is one thing; for instance, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE:WMT), the company with the highest revenue in the world, easily pulls in almost half-a-trillion dollars in sales each year. But with net income of just $14 billion as of 2016 (a huge figure, yes, but still way down from half a trillion bucks), the company suddenly doesn’t look to be as attractive of an investment as it did when looking solely at its top-line results. That just goes to show that being a great company is more than just earning more revenue than the next guy; it’s also about ensuring that whatever you earn and spend on your business will get you to the maximum possible income. That way, a company not only earns a lot, but also takes home a lot of money efficiently.
Out of the 10 companies on this list, four are from the U.S, while another four are from China, reflective of the positions that the two economic giants have. Japan and Switzerland each have one company on the list as well, reaffirming the statuses of the two countries as some of the most affluent in the world. We also noted that seven of the companies on the list are banks (four from China, two from the U.S, and one from Switzerland), while the other three represent a holding company, a tech giant, and a car maker. This shows that less than a decade removed from the Great Recession, the seemingly-doomed financial institutions are again pulling in big bucks, albeit with a little help from China’s resurgence as a fast-growing economy.
Speaking of China, don’t miss the list of the 10 most profitable companies in China.
To put things into perspective (and to entertain and shock you with numbers), the combined net income of the 10 companies on this list is $284.71 billion, more than the entire gross domestic product of up to 173 countries in the world (or every country except the top 40 or so in terms of GDP). Meanwhile, the aforementioned half-a-trillion dollars in revenue pulled in by Wal-Mart easily outpaces the entire economies of all but 23 countries. Talk about the power of the 1%.
As for which of these companies — Agricultural Bank of China (OTCMKTS:ACGBY), Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Bank of China Ltd, Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A), China Construction Bank Corporation, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM), Schweizerische Nationalbank (Swiss National Bank), Toyota Motor Corp (ADR) (NYSE:TM), and Wells Fargo & Co (NYSE:WFC) — ended up as the most profitable, head to the next page to begin the countdown of the 10 most profitable companies in the world in 2017, ranked in order of their net income for their fiscal year 2016.