More American companies are among the 20 largest in the world than at any time in the past decade. This is because earnings at U.S. companies have risen faster than the rest of the world as the global economy has rebounded.
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL), International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) and Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE: WFC) are among the U.S. companies that have joined the top 20 since stocks peaked in 2007, bringing the number to 14.
Earnings at the American companies new to the list rose 40% during the past four years. The 14 largest U.S. companies together earned $248.4 billion in the past 12 months, and their market value climbed to $3.57 trillion, which is about the size of Germany’s gross domestic product in 2011.
PetroChina Co. Ltd. (NYSE: PTR), formerly at the top of the list, has dropped to number four with a market capitalization of $251.7 billion. Irving, Texas-based Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM), the second-biggest company, is valued at $406.4 billion. Apple became the most valuable company ever as the stock rose to $668.87 on August 22, giving the iPhone and iPad maker a value of $627 billion.
The number of Chinese companies has since fallen from six to three amid the weakest Chinese growth since 2009. Those from Brazil, Russia, the United Kingdom and France have fallen from the top 20. American companies have gained strength also in part because of Europe’s sovereign debt crisis.