Three computer hardware titans, two mammoth petroleum conglomerates, two medical industry players, plus two well-established automotive brands dominate the list of America’s leading export companies.
America’s leading international product suppliers were vetted based on Forbes Global 2000 assessment of the World’s Largest Public Companies.
To give some international sales perspective, the United States exported US$1.645 trillion worth of products around the globe in 2019 based on International Trade Centre metrics. That dollar amount reflects a -1.2% decrease in value from 2018 to 2019 but a 9.5% improvement from 5 years prior in 2015.
In the analysis below, we compare 10 of America’s top exports-related businesses based on asset values, sales and profitability. Also presented is the U.S. city where each conglomerate has its headquarters.
United States Top 10 Major Export Companies
Below are 10 of the United States’ biggest export companies ordered by asset value. Shown within parentheses is the primary industry in which each company operates. Also shown is the percentage change in asset value as of December 2019 compared to one year earlier.
- ExxonMobil (oil, gas): US$362.6 billion, up 4% from 2018
- Apple (computer hardware): $320.4 billion, down -12.8%
- Ford Motor (car/truck makers): $264.2 billion, down -1.1%
- Chevron (oil, gas): $237.4 billion, down -7.4%
- General Motors (car/truck makers): $228 billion, up 4.3%
- Pfizer (pharmaceuticals): $167.5 billion, up 1.8%
- Johnson & Johnson (medical equipment, supplies): $155 billion, down -1%
- Intel (semiconductors): $147.7 billion, up 14.9%
- Procter & Gamble (household/personal care items): $124.4 billion, down -4.7%
- Cisco Systems (communications equipment): $90.4 billion, down -31.3%
Oil and gas giant ExxonMobile overtook trendy computer maker Apple as America’s largest international behemoth during 2019 in terms of assets.
The fastest asset-growing U.S. business from the above list was Intel chipmaker Intel via its 14.9% gain from 2018 to 2019. Other gainers were General Motors (up 4.3%), ExxonMobil (up 4%) and Pfizer (up 1.8%).
Leading the asset shrinkage year over year were Cisco Systems (down -31.3%), Apple (down -12.8%) and Chevron (down -7.4%).
Sales is the life blood of most businesses, and particularly for firms that compete in international trade. Seven among America’s largest export-related companies increased their year-over-year sales as of December 2019.
- Apple: US$267.7 billion, up 8.2% from 2018
- ExxonMobil: $256 billion, up 11.3%
- Ford Motor: $149.9 billion, down -6.1%
- Chevron: $140.1 billion, up 0.5%
- General Motors: $137.2 billion, down -5%
- Johnson & Johnson: $82.8 billion, up 5.2%
- Intel: $75.7 billion, up 18.3%
- Procter & Gamble: $70.3 billion, up 5.9%
- Cisco Systems: $51.6 billion, up 7.3%
- Pfizer: $50.7 billion, down -3.8%
Intel posted the fastest increase in sales during 2019, up 18.3% from 2018. In second place was energy-sector giant ExxonMobil (up 11.3%) followed by technology sector icon Apple (up 8.2%) then communications infrastructure kingpin Cisco (up 7.3%).
There were 3 decliners year over year namely Ford Motor (down -6.1%), automotive competitor General Motors (down -5%) and Pfizer (down -3.8%).
Five of America’s 10 largest export-related companies improved their profit pictures as of December 2019 compared to one year earlier.
- Apple: US$57.2 billion, up 7.3% from 2018
- Intel: $22.7 billion, up 104.5%
- Johnson & Johnson: $17.2 billion, up 1,333%
- Pfizer: $15.8 billion, down -27.2%
- ExxonMobil: $14.3 billion, down -29.9%
- Cisco Systems: $11.1 billion, reversing a -$1.4 billion deficit
- Procter & Gamble: $5 billion, down -50.5%
- Chevron: $2.9 billion, down -71.6%
- General Motors: $2.9 billion, reversing a -$3.2 billion deficit
- Ford Motor: -$3.1 billion, reversing $7.8 billion in profit
Johnson & Johnson posted the strongest percentage improvement, up 1,333% year over year. Other percentage gainers were Intel (up 104.5%) and Apple (7.3%). Cisco Systems and General Motors both reversed red ink in 2018 to generate profits in the latest reporting period.
Leading profit shrinkages were Ford Motor going from $7.8 billion in black ink for 2018 to suffer a -$3.1 billion loss in 2019. On a percentage basis, Chevron’s profit plummeted -71.6% while Procter & Gamble endured a -50.5% setback.
Four of the 10 largest American export companies are based in the state of California, a digital-technology leader. Michigan is the home office state for two storied automotive conglomerates, namely Ford and General Motors.
- Apple: Cupertino, California
- Chevron: San Ramon, California
- Cisco Systems: San Jose, California
- ExxonMobil: Irving, Texas
- Ford Motor: Dearborn, Michigan
- General Motors: Detroit, Michigan
- Intel: Santa Clara, California
- Johnson & Johnson: New Brunswick, New Jersey
- Pfizer: New York, New York
- Procter & Gamble: Cincinnati, Ohio
Note: Some of the above company offerings may include products other than the principal category shown within parenthesis under the Assets tab.
For example, Apple not only manufactures computer hardware but also markets software applications and operating systems. Similarly, Johnson & Johnson produces not only medical supplies but also personal care hygienic goods and surgical equipment.
See also United States Top 10 Exports, Top United States Trade Balances and America’s Top 20 Export States
Forbes Global 2000 individual company profiles, Example of top US company compiled for this study: ExxonMobil. Accessed on August 25, 2020
Forbes Global 2000 rankings for the United States, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on August 25, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on August 25, 2020
Wikipedia, List of largest companies by market capitalization. Accessed on August 25, 2020
Wikipedia, List of largest companies by revenue. Accessed on August 25, 2020