Retail

Apple, Amazon Race To Top Walmart As America's Largest Company

Walmart Inc (NYSE: WMT) has been the largest U.S. company by revenue for decades. Slow growing, its revenue should still top $550 billion this year, in part due to its Sam’s Club operation and its international revenue. However, Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN) and Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) both topped the $100 billion revenue per quarter mark at the end of 2020, which puts them in a race to pass Walmart, particularly because of their rapid growth at the top line.

Amazon’s revenue reached $126 billion last quarter, up 44%, due primarily to holiday shopping and the shop from home trend brought on by the pandemic. While e-commerce sales continue to rise quickly, they are aided by the hypergrowth of Amazon Web Services, the world’s largest cloud computing operations.  Amazon’s growth faces a single major hurdle. Will people return to bricks and mortar retailers as the pandemic subsides? If the convenience of e-commerce continues its appeal, Amazon’s revenue could reach over $500 billion in 2021.

Apple’s revenue in the final quarter of the year hit $111 billion, up 21% compared to the same quarter the year before. Its growth rate is not as rapid as Amazon’s, but three factors could accelerate revenue. The first is what has become known as the supercycle, a once in a decade rise in iPhone sales brought on by upgrades to smartphones that run on the new ultrafast 5G networks. The next is the quickened pace of sales in China, which now has almost one billion people online–three times the U.S. figure. The last is the surge in Apple’s services revenue, which includes the App Store, Apple Pay, and the Apple TV line of products.

As Apple and Amazon continue to grow, Walmart has been fortunate to post revenue increase in the slow single digits. The pandemic has not helped it much, at least compared to Amazon. It still continues to rely almost exclusively on the physical store to drive sales.

It has become an issue not of whether Amazon and Apple will pass Walmart in revenue. It is when, and which company will be the first to get there.

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