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Proof(s) of How Small is India’s Largest Company – Last One is a Big Surprise!!

A few days back, I was going through list of index constituents, when something caught my eye:

Currently, India’s largest company by market capitalization is TCS. It has a market cap of Rs 5.4 Lac Crores; which is equivalent to about 85 Billion Dollars. Now this in itself seems like a very big number. But compare this with $230 Billion market cap which Alibaba achieved on the very first day after its successful IPO….and you will feel that TCS’s $85 Billion may not be a very big number after all.

Though 100 Billion dollars like the next target for Indian companies, and it might happened quite soon…I personally feel that we are still atleast a decade or two away from having companies which can rub shoulders with Apple(s) & Google(s) in market capitalization.

Note – Apple has market cap of $600 Billion. Google’s is $392 Billion.

This big difference in market caps between Indian and US giants pushed me on a path to analyze market caps of global giants.

And rest of the post is about that and full of some really big and eye-popping numbers.

Last month, Alibaba listed at a valuation of $235 billion with the biggest IPO ever by a company listing in US. But this was still a long way from Apple’s current market cap of $600 Billion. And mentioning the market cap of TCS of 85 Billion seems like a criminal act. 🙂

World's Biggest market Cap Companies
In 2012, Apple broke Microsoft’s long standing record for US markets by breaching $616 billion mark which was set way back in 1999 at the peak of the dot-com boom.  But if we adjust these numbers for inflation, we would see that Apple is still hasn’t done what Microsoft or few other companies managed to do in 2000s. Apple is not even the second- or third-largest company by market cap in American history; it comes in fifth on this list as seen in graph below:

Now if you think that Apple, which eventually touched $665 billion, was the biggest company ever, then you are mistaken.

A relatively unknown name in India, but an energy behemoth achieved the distinction of becoming the first-ever company to be valued at $1 trillion.

Yes… One Trillion Dollars…. i.e ….1000 Billion Dollars!!

China’s biggest energy producer PetroChina achieved this mark in 2007 when its shares tripled on the very first day of trading after its IPO on the Shanghai exchange.

Now one of the companies which have intrigued me for long is Standard Oil. Having worked for few years in Oil Refining sector has also played a part in me having a soft corner for energy companies. 🙂

Founder of Standard Oil was John D. Rockefeller. He was the richest man ever, worth almost $700 Billion in today’s terms – compare this with Apple’s market capitalization of $600 Billion and you would understand about the enormousness of Rockefeller’s achievement.

Note – You might be interested in reading an article I did for Old School Value about the Secrets to Rockefeller’s Massive Wealth.
Share Certificate of Standard Oil
Now let’s see where Standard Oil would have stood in this game of market capitalization. At its peak, Standard Oil controlled 90 percent of American refining capacity. The company no longer exists and was split into 34 smaller companies in 1911 after an anti-trust legislation.

Among the “baby Standards” that still exist are ExxonMobil (Current Market Cap – $400 Billion) and Chevron ($200 Billion). You can now get a feel of how big the ‘mother’ of these babies was. According to some estimates, Standard Oil could have possibly been worth more than $1 trillion today. And this is pretty close to PetroChina’s inflation adjusted all-time highs:

So…

Are we done? Is Standard Oil the biggest company ever? Or is it PetroChina?

No..Probably not…

There is an unlisted state-controlled company named Saudi Aramco which owns the largest proven reserves of crude oil. And recent efforts to estimate the size of this oil-giant ranges from (hold your breath) $2.2 trillion to over $7 trillion!! (source)

A more reliable reference point would be $3.6 trillion as calculated by University of Texas. And that is quite conservative since company’s crude oil reserves are worth more than $25 trillion.

Note – You can read more about Saudi Aramco here.

So…

Is Saudi Aramco the biggest company ever?

No again… 🙂

There is another company which like Standard Oil, does not exist today.

Any guesses?

Here is a hint….

It was the first company to go public and that too on world’s first stock exchange!

Still don’t know? No worries…. the answer is…

The Dutch East India Company

The company raised capital in the year 1602 and at its peak employed more than 70,000 people around the world. It reached a peak market capitalization of almost 78 million Dutch Guilders at the height of a Tulipmania.

This translates to a modern-day valuation of almost $7.4 Trillion, making the Dutch East India Company the largest company in history.

Just for sake of comparison, I have added TCS’s market cap figures in graph below and as evident, it’s nowhere 🙁

Note – You might be interested in reading more about Tulip Mania in an article I wrote for Safal Niveshak titled What A Tulip Can Tell You About Stock Markets.

I know comparing companies that existed centuries apart does not make any practical sense. But it does show that there have been companies in past which were so powerful and rich (when compared to that era’s world), that today’s companies can’t even dream of achieving that status or power.

Now this post started with a reference to TCS’s market cap. And as it has been observed, it’s pretty clear that as of now, Indian companies are nowhere in the game of market caps. But that is not because we are not capable of it. But because we as a country are still in nascent stages of our development and growth. We are neither a developed nation, nor an economic superpower.

But having said that, one should also look at brighter side of things…that there is such a big scope for Indian companies to grow. And for investors, a chance to make hell lot of money with companies which will eventually grow to levels achieved by big foreign giants.

Note – Quite a few numbers/figures have been sourced from here.
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Written by Dev Ashish

Founder - Stable Investor Investing | Personal Finance | Financial Planning | Common Sense

15 comments

  1. Hi,

    This is a very interesting article.
    Few years back, I had invested some amount in Gulf Oils.
    And I sold it with profit and never bought it again. So, haven't tracked it for a long time.
    Looks like you have good information regarding Oil companies and hence wanted to check about your views on Gulf Oils? Is it good to invest for long term?

    Regards,
    Narendra

  2. nice article as always..As an investor i always try to map buisiness which are matured in US/EU with India and try to invest in it. As India still has long way to go. If we are in a market for decades i believe we will make hell lot of money. So Indian needs to invest more in financial assets rather than in physical assets like gold and cement concrete homes.Other wise one day most of Indian wealth will be controlled by FIIs. If we control valuation of global oil giants with Indian OMCs, we can see massive investment opportunities in Indian OMCs.

  3. Hi Dev, That was indeed interesting article…In any case do you have the maximum amount of profit earned by a company in any given year…Market Capitalisation depends on the Earnings of a company and the expectation of the market about the future of the company…It would be interesting to know the actual earnings of different companies across different time zones…

  4. Well said KP
    One of the good things for us investors is that there is still a lot of scope for India to grow in decades to come. And this in itself is a great opportunity for us…
    And I totally second your statement of undervaluation in OMCs when compared with global peers.

  5. Hi Swapnil
    Its possible to find profits for listed companies like Apple, Microsoft, etc from present era. Not sure if we can get our hands on real profit numbers of unlisted ones like Saudi Aramco or those which operated in ancient eras (like Dutch East India Co.)

  6. Hi Dev Ashish,
    Do you for see TCS to grow market cap at least 5 times in next 10 years ~400 billion market cap. What would it take for it reach there (at least 1 million employees, it already has 300K). And as market cap grows, it will start getting lower multiple (10 to 15 times) and not 25 times.

    Regards,
    Dinesh

  7. Hi Dinesh

    A 5x in 10 years amounts to 18% growth every year for next 10 years. Though theoretically such numbers don’t seem impossible, in reality maintaining that kind of momentum is very tough. Add to it the fact that the base here (in case of TCS) is already a big number close to 100 billion dollars. And unless and until TCS come up with a revolutionary product like iPhone or something, which sends the company in another orbit, chances of 5x seem remote.

  8. Needs cant wait 15 days and we can utilize this war foot margin as ” Exploiting opprtunities”.
    Wants can wait as long as it become needs by external Bias /noise.
    Now a days, it is very difficult to classify the needs and wants due to social comparision. My dad taught me the needs and feeling happiness. But Colleagues, Wife, Kid are slowly moving the thin line seperation between needs and wants.

  9. Hi Karthikraja
    You are absolutely right that needs generally cannot wait for 15 days. But having said that, 'Wants' can wait.
    The idea of this post was directed towards having an intentional delay in satisfaction of 'Wants' and not 'Needs'.
    As far as social pressure is concerned, that it indeed a problem in current times…but only solution to such pressure lies within us…isn't it? We are the only ones who can chose to be affected or not to be affected by social pressures.

  10. Dear Dev – Just so you know … TCS’s 85Billion $ is not a small number by any means … if you recognize and respect Hewlett Packard as ICONIC company that it is …. HP was having a market cap north of 130Billion Dollars…. today due to demergers and other spin offs its shrunk to two companies HPQ of 23 B and HPE of 32 B respectively ….. so please 85Billion is not a small no. ( PS – i dont work for either TCS or HP )

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