Visual History Of The S&P 500
The S&P 500 is one of the most widely-followed benchmarks in the world, serving as a barometer not only for the U.S. economy but for global markets as well. It has been almost 20 years since the first S&P 500 ETF debuted; State Street’s (SPY, A) started trading in early 1993. Since then, the S&P 500 has been linked to iShares‘ (IVV, A) and Vanguard’s (VOO, A+).
With the 20th birthday of this ETF coming in January 2013, we take a look back at the evolution of one of the best-known indexes over the past two decades. While some of the names remain the same, many components of the S&P 500 have undergone radical changes since the first ETF debuted. We start more than a full decade before the launch of SPY in 1980, when Standard Oil was a household name, Atlantic Richfield was one of the biggest companies in the world, and AAPL was only recently a public company (AAPL went public at $22 per share in December 1980 and started paying a dividend in 2012).
To see the composition of the S&P 500 in any subsequent year, click on the links below (the 1999 roster is particularly interesting). All market cap data is in millions of dollars.
For ETF insights and actionable investment ideas, sign up for the free ETFdb newsletter:
1980: Exxon AND Mobil
In the early 1980s, Big Oil was, well, big. Though the two largest companies in the S&P 500 were a tech stock and a telecom firm, oil and gas dominated the rest of the list. Back in the days before they were combined, Exxon and Mobil were both among the largest companies in the world (though their combined market cap in 1980 was only about $50 billion).
The list of other large companies at the turn of the decade is full of names that today many won’t recognize, including Atlantic Richfield. There were two Standard Oil Companies on the list at this point, with both Indiana and California represented in the top 10.
Largest Component: International Business Machines (IBM, $39.6 billion). A decade later, IBM would have a market cap of about $64 billion. By 2000, it would no longer be one of the top 10 S&P 500 components.
Top 10 Market Cap: $236.9 billion–or about half of what Apple is worth today. A market cap of just under $14 billion was significant enough to land General Electric in the top 10.
Whatever Happened To: Atlantic Richfield Company. Better known as ARCO, the company has about 1,300 gas stations in the western United States. ARCO became a subsidiary of BP in 2000 (like a few other companies on this list), and in August 2012 it was announced that Tseoro would purchase the assets of ARCO and its refinery for about $2.5 billion.
Those in the Sacramento, California area will recognize ARCO as the sponsor of the ARCO Arena (home to the Sacramento Kings, that arena is now known as the Power Balance Pavilion).
1981: When Cameras Were Popular
Oil remained a huge industry in 1981, as half of the top 10 companies in the S&P 500 were engaged in the gas business. AT&T took the top spot away from IBM, while Exxon, Schlumberger, Shell and a couple of the Standard Oil Companies (Indiana and California) also held down spots.
Perhaps the most nostalgic name on this list is Kodak, who broke in with the #10 spot and a market cap of more than $11 billion. Kodak would climb further in coming years before the trends caught up to the camera company, and a long downfall eventually led to bankruptcy.
General Electric began its ascent up this list, climbing from number 10 the previous year up to the seventh spot. The company would, of course, deliver tremendous value to shareholders over the coming decades, eventually becoming the most valuable company in the S&P 500.
Largest Component: American Telephone & Telegraph, now better known to most investors simply as AT&T. The company overtook IBM for the top spot, sporting a market cap of about $47.8 billion–up sharply from just over $35 billion a year earlier.
Top 10 Market Cap: $204.4 billion, down quite a bit from just one year earlier. Though AT&T stock soared, several other components of the top 10 went backwards in 1981.
Newcomers: There were a couple of new additions to this list in 1981: Kodak and General Motors joined, knocking out Atlantic Richfield and Mobil.
Whatever Happened To: Standard Oil Company of California. This company is still around today, though under a different name than it was known by in 1981. Standard Oil of California changed its name to Chevron, and grew to become one of the major global oil companies.
1982: GE’s Rise Continued
In 1982 the U.S. economy was still very oil-heavy–at least at the top of the heap. Five of the country’s 10 largest companies were oil-related, with some tech firms, a carmaker and a telecom sprinkled in for good measure. GE continued to have a significant presence, climbing to the #4 spot after being the tenth-largest stock only two years earlier.
In 1992 a gallon of gas cost about $1.05, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average finished the year at just over 3,300. It was also the year Hurricane Andrew slammed into Florida, mob boss John Gotti was sentenced to life in prison, and Ross Perot burst on to the national scene with his attempt at a third party campaign.
Largest Component: After a one-year hiatus, IBM returned as the largest company in the S&P with a market cap of almost $58 billion, a big increase from just $34 billion a year earlier.
Top 10 Market Cap: $239.3 billion, up considerably from a year earlier. Led by IBM, the top components of the S&P 500 added more than $30 billion in market cap.
Newcomers: There were no new additions to the S&P 500 top 10 in 1982; the list remained just as it was the year before.
Whatever Happened To: Schlumberger. The company is still the largest oilfield services company in the world, with more than 100,000 employees and operations in 85 countries around the globe. Schlumberger is still a component of the S&P 500, though it has dropped into about 30th place on the list (just behind Home Depot).
1983: Oil Is King
In 1983, oil companies were thriving, with several energy components represented in the top 10 of the S&P 500. Today, Exxon Mobil continues to be a major player in the oil and gas industry, and several other components have evolved into new entities.
IBM was the most valuable U.S. stock in 1983 with a market capitalization of nearly $75 billion, which made it more than twice as valuable as the #2 company on the list. The computer maker isn’t the only holdover from the 1980s that still makes up a big chunk of the S&P; GE and Exxon have also shown staying power, and continue to be among the most valuable companies in the world.
Largest Component: International Business Machines (IBM, $74.3 billion)
Top 10 Market Cap: $241.2 billion
Newcomers: Sears Roebuck and duPont were new to the top 10 in 1993, replacing Shell Oil and Standard Oil of California from the year before.
Whatever Happened To: Standard Oil of Indiana. Also known as Stanolind, Standard Oil of Indiana was the sixth-largest component of the S&P 500 in 1983. The company was later renamed Amoco and is now a part of BP.
[Get ratings for 1,500+ dividend stocks with a free 14-day trial to Dividend.com premium]
1984: Big Oil Gets Even Bigger
This year saw Schlumberger and Sears displaced from the top 10 constituents as big oil continued its takeover of the S&P. Newcomers to the top holdings were Royal Dutch Petrol and Shell Oil (a subsidiary of Royal Dutch), as the two would operate as separate companies until the end of 2004.
IBM retained its dominance with over $75 billion in total assets, but big oil was beginning to make a run at the top spot. Both duPont and Kodak saw their market capitalizations dip for the year, as it would be the last time that Kodak would crack the top 10 of this 500 company index.
Largest Component: International Business Machines (IBM, $75.3 billion), up from $74.3 billion the year before.
Top 10 Market Cap: $250.5 billion, up from $241.2 billion the year before.
Newcomers: Shell Oil was able to make its way back into the top 10 after missing out in 1983. Royal Dutch Petrol also cracked the top list in ’84 as the trend of big oil was in full force.
Whatever Happened To: Eastman Kodak. Once dominant in the photography industry, Kodak would slowly fall off in the coming years, as many feel that it failed to innovate to keep up with technology. The firm filed for bankruptcy in early 2012.
1985: Jockeying For Position
The strong only got stronger in 1985, as IBM, Exxon and GE all saw healthy jumps in total market cap. But while the biggest firms retained their spots, a number of companies were left to duke it out at the bottom of the top 10, bringing in some new competitors.
Three names made their way into the top 10 that had been absent the year prior. BellSouth was a new entrant this year, while Sears was able to reclaim a spot as one of the largest companies in the world (note that Amoco is simply Standard Oil of Indiana renamed). The top members of the S&P saw an 18.4% increase in total assets in 1985, as U.S. stocks continued to prosper.
Largest Component: International Business Machines (IBM, $95.6 billion), up sharply from about $75 billion the year before.
Top 10 Market Cap: $296.8 billion, up from only about $250 billion the previous year.
Newcomers: Sears was able to fight its way back into the top holdings while BellSouth made its debut in this elite group of stocks.
Both of those stints would be very short-lived; Sears has fallen on particularly hard times since growing to become one of the largest companies in the world in the mid-1980s.
Whatever Happened To: BellSouth. This is the only time this name appears on this list. From here, the company’s path took a few turns; after being divested from AT&T in 1984, BellSouth re-merged with the telecom giant in 2006.
1986: Enter Philip Morris
The top seven holdings were relatively stagnant, although investors will note that IBM took a big hit in market cap as compared to the previous year. Big oil had a fantastic year, as both Exxon and Royal Dutch surged in assets, allowing the latter to overtake General Motors.
Phllip Morris would enter the top 10 holdings in 1986, a position it would hold through 1997, as this stock is still among investor’s favorites to this day. As a whole, the top components only jumped by $13 billion in market cap, a relatively slow year for the index.
Many of the top components of the S&P 500 from 1986 have fallen off considerably; only a handful of the top 10 names remain today.
Largest Component: International Business Machines (IBM, $73.2 billion)
Though it remained the largest holding in the S&P 500, IBM took a big hit in 1986; at the end of the previous year, the firm had a market cap of almost $96 billion. Even though the total value of the top 10 went up, IBM took a big slide.
Top 10 Market Cap: $309.1 billion, up from about $297 billion in the previous year.
Newcomers: Philip Morris and Merck & Co were both new to this elite list in 1986. The two would battle it out over the next few years, each with multiple appearances in the top 10.
Whatever Happened To: International Business Machines. After taking a big drop in market cap in 1986, the company would never retain the same dominance, as it would hop all over for the next few years before falling out of the top 10 altogether.
1987: Ford Rolls In
The top seven holdings remained largely unchanged, with IBM retaining its dominance while Royal Dutch inched closer to Exxon’s number two spot. Big oil as a whole saw its market cap jump close to $10 billion, accounting for the bulk of the total market cap gains for the index, which grew by $17 billion.
With BellSouth out of the picture, Ford Motor rolled in and just barely beat out GM for the the number nine spot. Unfortunately, Ford Motor’s appearance on this list was quite short-lived as the car juggernaut would hold on to its ranking for just another year.
The two automotive giants would not be in the top 10 of the S&P 500 again after 1988, and would encounter considerable troubles down the road.
Largest Component: International Business Machines (IBM, $69.8 billion). Though IBM remained the most valuable company on this list, its value declined again, coming down about $3 billion from the previous year.
Top 10 Market Cap: $325.9 billion, up from only about $309 billion in the previous year.
Newcomers: Ford Motor made its debut on this list for the first time in 1987, marking the first year when two car manufacturers would find themselves in the top rankings.
Whatever Happened To: Since American Telephone & Telegraph — that was the company’s name in the late 1980s — divested itself of BellSouth in 1984, the regional telephone company would give up its seat in 1987 and make room for Ford Motor. Of course AT&T became a telecom behemoth in the decades to come, and remains one of the largest companies in the world today.
1988: The List Gets Shuffled
The top 10 holdings stayed exactly the same this year, although the rankings did get shuffled around. IBM, Exxon and General Electric held their ground at the top while American Tel & Tel worked its way up the list as duPont fell into the last place position.
Each of the components saw modest increases in their respective market caps with an overall gain of $23.6 billion; among the biggest gainers from a market capitalization perspective were auto giants Ford and GM, each gaining approximately $5 billion on the year.
Those happy days didn’t last for long, however, as Ford was out of the top 10 the next year, and the two would not appear together as top 10 components again.
Largest Component: International Business Machines (IBM, $72.2 billion). IBM managed to post modest gains (up from about $70 billion the previous year) but still kept a very firm hold on the top spot.
Top 10 Market Cap: $349.5 billion; the previous year, the top 10 holdings were worth a combined $326 billion.
Newcomers: The top 10 list remained unchanged as industry giants held their ground, keeping the door closed for any new entrants.
Whatever Happened To: This was the last year that Ford Motor would retain a position in the top 10 before falling on hard times and suffering an as-yet irreversible drop in market cap. Ford stock declined into single digits during the recent crisis, though the automaker did manage to avoid taking government assistance.
1989: Exxon Takes The Crown
For the first time since 1982, the S&P saw a new leader as IBM suffered a dip in market cap and Exxon took full advantage. Though Exxon would battle for the top slot for the next few years, it is a position that it would eventually secure and hold for a fair amount of time.
The total market cap of the index also saw a marked increase, as it jumped more than 20% on the year. Also, Bristol-Myers Squibb cracked the top 10; the pharma company secured seventh place and a narrow lead over duPont and Amoco.
In 1989, the S&P was dominated by Big Oil, Big Pharma and a very profitable cigarette company.
Largest Component: Exxon (XOM, $62.6 billion). Exxon was worth about $58 billion the year before; it claimed the top spot more as a result of IBM’s collapse than its own surge.
Top 10 Market Cap: $420.2 billion. Stocks posted another huge year; the top 10 components were worth only about $350 billion the previous year.
Newcomers: Bristol-Myers Squibb made its debut in the top 10 in 1989, but the remaining nine had all been there before.
Whatever Happened To: Bristol-Myers Squibb. The pharma giant is still one of the best known in the business, but it simply is not as prominent now as it was then.
1990: Newcomers Here To Stay
IBM was able to regain its top slot, as it narrowly edged out Exxon. This year also saw the departure of duPont and Amoco from the top 10, as they were forced to make room for two newcomers who were here to stay.
The ’90s would mark the beginning of the internet era, but those firms had yet to overtake some of their larger, more stable competitors.
The composition of the S&P top 10 at the start of the decade compared to the end of the 1990s highlights the truly transformative nature of this decade for the stock market and U.S. economy in general.
Top 10 Market Cap: $437.5 billion. Despite some declines among top components, the total value of the top 10 rose again from about $420 billion in the previous year.
Largest Component: International Business Machines (IBM, $64.5 billion). IBM surged back; the company’s value had declined to about $55 billion in the previous year.
Newcomers: Coca-Cola and Wal-Mart were both newcomers to the top 10, and both companies would continue to grow in the coming years.
Whatever Happened To: Wal-Mart. Today, Wal-Mart is one of the biggest names in the United States, but it would take the company until 1997 until it could finally cement a spot in the top 10 of the S&P.
1991: Big-Time Growth
This year didn’t see anything shake up as far as new entrants are concerned, but instead the top 10 enjoyed a massive growth. As you will notice below, the market cap of these companies surged more than 36%, as these major companies enjoyed strong years.
Investors should also take note of the fact that IBM took a major hit from the previous year, allowing Exxon to regain its top slot. Philip Morris and Wal-Mart were able to surge in market cap as well, with the latter company nearly doubling its size in just one year.
The 1992 list still had that old time feel — it would be a few more years before the tech giants began to make their push up the leaderboard.
Top 10 Market Cap: $595.5 billion. This is one of the biggest single year pops on this list; the top 10 components surged from an aggregate value of only about $438 billion the year before.
Largest Component: Exxon (XOM, $75.6 billion). Exxon was worth only about $65 billion the previous year.
Newcomers: No new entrants this year, simply the top 10 battling it out for the coveted top spot. Coca-Cola managed a significant jump from #10 to #6, growing market cap by more than 50% in a single year.
Whatever Happened To: General Motors. If you haven’t already noticed, GM slipped out of the top 10 in 1987 and would not be a member of that elite group again.
1992: A Stale Year
Not a whole lot of growth graced these stocks this year. Instead, we saw IBM fall out of the top 10 holdings for the first time in a while, and the total market cap of these stocks suffered a $20 billion drop.
This was a year when Bill Clinton became president, the Mall of America was constructed, and AT&T released its video telephone with an eye-popping $1,499 price tag. But not much happened for many of these stocks, as valuations were relatively flat on the year. That wouldn’t last for long, however, as U.S. stocks were poised to take off and enjoy one of their most impressive stretches ever over the coming few years.
Top 10 Market Cap: $579.1 billion. After a huge jump the year before, the biggest companies in the S&P cooled off a bit in 1992; this total value is down from about $595 billion a year earlier.
Largest Component: Exxon (XOM, $75.9 billion). Exxon was basically flat from the year earlier.
Newcomers: Procter & Gamble cracked the top 10 this year as it began to establish itself as one of the most dominant U.S. companies.
Whatever Happened To: Procter & Gamble. The company would remain in the top 10 for several years, but would eventually be squeezed out by bellwethers that it simply could not compete with on a size basis.
1993: General Electric Takes The Crown
The top 10 list remained generally unchanged although General Electric dethroned Exxon as the biggest company; the company would hold on to to the top spot for five more years after that until finally beaten out by Microsoft. GE stock began its ascent to a $100 billion company by posting huge profits and revenue increases. GE remains one of the largest companies in the world today, having expanded into a number of new areas such as television.
This year saw a host of major events unravel as the world wide web was born, marking the beginning of a new era; on the political front, Bill Clinton was sworn in as president while the World Trade Centers sustained a terrorist attack.
Top 10 Market Cap: $580.8 billion. Though GE posted a huge gain, the top 10 in aggregate were essentially flat (they were worth about $579 billion a year earlier).
Largest Component: General Electric (GE, $89.4 billion). GE’s equity was worth only about $73 billion a year earlier.
Newcomers: General Motors found its way back into the rankings, taking the number nine spot and replacing Bristol-Myers Squibb.
Whatever Happened To: Bristol-Myers Squibb left this list entirely as the company would not make an appearance in the top 10 for the coming years; today, BMY has a market cap of about $54 billion, marking a modest increase since its market cap of $35 billion in 1993.
1994: IBM Returns
The top 10 list was reshuffled again with AT&T taking the number two spot from Exxon and Royal Dutch Petrol beating out Wal-Mart for the number five spot, while General Electric held onto the crown. The list of the 10 largest companies had, at this point, shown little turnover over the past several years; GE and Exxon continue to be near the top, while Phillip Morris, IBM and Wal-Mart hold down steady spots as the largest stocks in the world.
This year saw a host of events including the U.S. invasion of Haiti and the signing of the Kremlin Accords with Russia, marking the end of an era dominated by the fear of nuclear war. The North American Free Trade Agreement was also established, opening up the doors between Canada, Mexico and the United States.
Top 10 Market Cap: $597 billion, up from about $581 billion a year earlier; this marked a jump of 2.8%.
Largest Component: General Electric (GE, $87.2 billion). GE retained the top spot despite declining slightly from its value of about $89 billion a year earlier.
Newcomers: IBM found its way back into the rankings, taking the number nine spot and replacing General Motors.
Whatever Happened To: General Motors. The famed automaker dropped out of the list entirely after 1993 and would never crack the elusive top 10 after that. The firm would eventually fall into bankruptcy and be forced to take its stock off of public exchanges. GM made an IPO in 2010 and returned to profitability the following year.
1995: Microsoft Enters The Stage
The top of the list remained largely unchanged while two newcomers found their way into the rankings; Microsoft and Johnson & Johnson pushed their way in from the bottom of the rankings, taking out Wal-Mart and IBM. The brainchild of Bill Gates, Microsoft would remain one of the most dominant companies in the United States as well as one of the best-known software makers in the world.
This year was a monster year for the big guys as the top 10 companies saw their collective market capitalization grow to $813 billion, marking an impressive 35% increase. We also saw the Dow close above 5,000 for the first time in 1995. In other events, the Oklahoma City bombing shocked the nation, while on the international front the World Trade Organization was established.
Top 10 Market Cap: $813.3 billion. This marked a huge spike from the year before; in 1994, the top 10 holdings were worth less than $600 billion in total.
Largest Component: General Electric (GE, $120.3 billion). GE enjoyed the first of many banner years, climbing from only about $87 billion a year earlier.
Newcomers: Microsoft made its debut on the list this year and the software behemoth would retain its position as one of the 10 biggest companies through today.
Whatever Happened To: Wal-Mart didn’t make the top 10 cut in 1995, however, this juggernaut would reclaim its position on the list in 1998 and hold on to it through today.
1996: Say Hello to Intel
Another big year for U.S. stocks as the top 10 were able to break through the $1 trillion mark as far as combined market cap is concerned. GE was able to maintain its top slot, while the bottom nine battled it out to move up the ranks. The appearance of Microsoft and Intel on this list was a sign of the changing times; in the years to come, the companies would be joined by several other tech stocks (some of which had more staying power than others) and experience some pretty significant ups and downs along the way.
It was an important year for the U.S. as we held the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. That year would also see the introduction of DVDs in Japan and the launch of Ebay. The latter would start a trend that would continue for several years as the internet bubble continued to build.
Top 10 Market Cap: $1.05 trillion. The S&P grew again; a year earlier, the 10 largest companies were worth just about $813 billion.
Largest Component: General Electric (GE, $162.8 billion). The company’s market cap popped from only about $120 billion a year earlier.
Newcomers: Intel (INTC). The semiconductor firm was introduced into the top 10 after surging in assets to grab on to the fourth overall position.
Whatever Happened To: General Electric. The company would remain dominant for the next few years, but would eventually lose its place as the top valued firm in the States. From then on, GE would find itself in a constant battle for the number one spot as a number of newcomers were able to give the conglomerate a run for its money.
1997: The $100 Billion Club
If you wanted to make the top 10 in ’97, your company had to have a minimum market cap of $100 billion; this was the first year that all of these firms fell into triple digit territory and they never looked back.
This year would see the Dow Jones close above 7,000 for the first time and Steve Jobs return to run Apple (it will still be more than a decade before AAPL appears on this list). As far as pop culture is concerned, Mike Tyson’s infamous ear bite, the Hale-Bopp Comet and the film Titanic all came during this busy 12-month span.
Microsoft climbed to the number three spot this year, trailing only Coca-Cola and GE (MSFT would, of course, eventually make it all the way to the top).
Top 10 Market Cap: $1.39 trillion, up about 30% from the $1.05 trillion in the year before.
Largest Component: General Electric (GE, $240.1 billion). Once again shares of GE surged, climbing from only about $163 billion just one year earlier.
Newcomers: No newcomers to the top 10 this year, just the same old firms duking it out over market cap.
Whatever Happened To: Coca-Cola. The soft drink giant is still one of the best-known brands in the world, but after 1998, it would never make another appearance in the top 10 list.
1998: Microsoft Takes Over
Bill Gates and company would take over in 1998 as the biggest firm in the States, as the Windows operating system and the personal computer were continuing to flourish. Wal-Mart also made an astonishing comeback to grab fourth place after missing the top 10 the year prior.
This was one of the best years on record for the S&P 500, and the firms at the top of the list enjoyed very impressive performances. Total market cap for the top 10 jumped by more than 47%, as the strong continued to get stronger.
Also continuing to increase was the tech presence in the S&P 500; while Microsoft held the top spot, Cisco, IBM and Intel also were among the 10 largest components.
Top 10 Market Cap: $2.06 trillion. The total crossed the $2 trillion mark for the first time, jumping from about $1.4 trillion a year earlier.
Largest Component: Microsoft ($345.8 billion). Microsoft stock soared; the company was worth just $156 billion a year earlier. GE lost the top spot despite adding nearly $95 billion to its market cap.
Newcomers: Pfizer cracked the top 10 in ’98 as its juggernaut Lipitor had been approved two years earlier and would go on to be one of the best-selling pharmaceutical drugs of all time. Cisco Systems also saw their first appearances in this upper-tier.
Whatever Happened To: Pfizer. The company still remains a dominant force in the pharma world, but Pfizer lost exclusivity on their best-selling and most popular product; Lipitor lost its patent in late 2011 and was available for generics several months later.
1999: Y2K On The Horizon
In a year when people were worried about the coming millennium, stocks were fairly active, as the top 10 saw a number of names and faces come and go. Microsoft was able to nearly double its market cap at the height of the internet bubble, which allowed for others to do the same. Note that this is still the highest combined assets of the top 10 stocks of any year to date.
New internet companies were breaking into the ranks; America Online (AOL) was certainly one of the most prominent, as you would be hard-pressed to find someone who does not remember the painstaking dial-up tones from the early days of AOL.
Top 10 Market Cap: $3.13 trillion. Stocks continued their furious rally, as the valuation of the top 10 climbed by more than $1 trillion from a year earlier (thanks in large part to some high flying newcomers).
Largest Component: Microsoft ($604.1 billion). The computer company posted another big jump, up from less than $350 billion the year before (though we all know it didn’t end well).
Newcomers: Lucent Technologies, Citigroup and America Online all made their debut appearances in the top 10; note that only Citigroup would retain its position for the year 2000.
Whatever Happened To: Lucent Technologies. Another forced divestiture of AT&T, this multi-national telecom firm would continue to operate until being acquired by Alcatel SA in December of 2006.
2000: The Bubble Bursts
At the turn of the century, the S&P 500 would crack 1,500 for the first time, before embarking on a three-year slide that began with the bursting of the internet bubble and losses of 9% for the index for the year as a whole.
The top components were shaken up by the burst, as a number of internet companies were replaced by familiar faces who were able to reclaim lost ground during weak times. At the turn of the century, this year saw Tiger Woods become the youngest golfer to complete a grand slam and George W. Bush edge out Al Gore in the presidential election.
Largest Component: General Electric ($474.9 billion). GE claimed the top spot despite a drop from about $508 billion a year earlier, as the other contenders fell by the wayside. Microsoft dropped from more than $600 billion a year earlier.
Top 10 Market Cap: $2.75 trillion–a modest decline from the $3.1 trillion a year earlier given some of the horrific individual company declines.
Newcomers: American International Group, better known as AIG, was able to crack the top 10 as its multinational insurance business was catching on.
Whatever Happened To: Microsoft in 2000. In case you weren’t paying attention, Microsoft saw its market cap shrink from $600 billion to $230, as the firm was absolutely hammered over the controversy of hiring Steve Ballmer and a judgement ruling that the firm was an abusive monopoly.
2001: The Recession Takes Over
The S&P 500 would surrender more then 11% in 2001, as the aftermath of the internet bubbled plagued a number of equities. Some, like Microsoft, were able to generate meaningful growth, but a number of others were left out to dry with the rest of the index.
George W. Bush took office in January to try and navigate through the recession, as the internet bubble dug a major hole for the 43rd President of the United States. This year would see Enron file for bankruptcy, Wikipedia go live and the popular music-sharing service Napster get shut down. This was also the year that Cincinnati was forced to declare a state of emergency amid several nights of rioting that consumed the city.
Largest Component: General Electric ($398.1 billion), continuing its decline from about $475 billion the year before.
Top 10 Market Cap: $2.60 trillion. In the second straight year of declines, the total value dropped from about $2.75 trillion a year earlier.
Newcomers: Johnson & Johnson would make its way back into the top 10, although it had previously been among these elite companies several years prior.
Whatever Happened To: The S&P 500. The index would take a major hit from 2000-2002, as the United States endured a recession as a result of the bubble bursting from the internet race.
2002: Rock Bottom
The height of the recession watched the index shrink by more than 22%, as stocks found rock bottom in 2002 before making their way higher over the next few years. As far as the top 10 holdings are concerned it was a relatively boring year, but there was plenty of action beyond this group of stocks.
The palindromic year saw Kmart file for bankruptcy, marking the largest American retailer in history to do so. But the trouble did not stop there, as the household name was followed by another Chapter 11 filing from WorldCom and bankruptcy protection filed for by United Airlines. The euro was officially adopted as the currency of 12 European nations as well as 10 new nations were added to the European Union.
Largest Component: Microsoft ($276.4 billion). Microsoft’s value declined sharply from about $357 billion a year earlier, but it took over the top spot after GE lost about $150 billion in market cap.
Top 10 Market Cap: $1.91 trillion. The total value of the top 10 companies tumbles, shedding about $700 billion from the previous year.
Newcomers: No newcomers in this recession-trodden year, though Merck was able to knock out Intel and grab the 10th slot.
Whatever Happened To: The 2000s recession. After running its course through 2002, the S&P had lost more than 40% in three years, but would fall into the black for the next five years.
2003: Recovery In Sight
The S&P 500 Index bounced back with ferocity in 2003 as an improving economic outlook washed away woes still lingering from the tech bubble; the benchmark would go on to gain nearly 30% on the year while tacking on close to $500 billion from a market capitalization perspective.
In world news, the United States Department of Homeland Security officially began operations while the military invasion of Iraq also took place. This year also saw the tragic disintegration of the Space Shuttle Columbia while SARS spread from China. This year would also see the largest blackout in the history of North America as 50 million citizens of the northeastern states and southern Canada found themselves without power.
Largest Component: General Electric ($310.4 billion). After sliding sharply, GE climbed back from about $242 billion the year before.
Top 10 Market Cap: $2.34 trillion. The value of the top 10 holdings reversed its slide, jumping from about $1.9 trillion a year earlier, marking a healthy increase of 23.2%.
Newcomers: There were no newcomers to the list, although Intel and Cisco did knock out Merck and Johnson & Johnson from the rankings.
Whatever Happened To: Merck. The pharma giant slipped out of the top 10 holdings the year prior, and would never be able to crack this elusive list to this day.
2004: Bulls Push Higher
The recovery continued on Wall Street, although bullish momentum did simmer a bit following the massive bounce from the year prior; the S&P 500 Index turned in a solid gain of 10% on the year, although its total market cap grew by only $60 billion.
In the 2004 presidential election George W. Bush secured his second term, while overseas the European Union tied its largest expansion, adding 10 new member nations. This year also saw the launch of the popular social media platform Facebook, as the company would eventually surge to hundreds of millions of users and even go public in 2012.
Largest Component: General Electric ($385.9 billion). GE added another $70 billion or so in market cap, continuing its comeback.
Top 10 Market Cap: $2.40 trillion, another step forward though only a modest increase from about $2.3 trillion a year earlier.
Newcomers: Bank of America snuck into the number seven spot, helping to grow the presence of financial behemoths in the rankings. BofA would continue to surge in the coming years, eventually establishing itself as one of the “Big Four” banks in the United States.
Whatever Happened To: Intel. The tech-giant Intel fell off the top 10 list in 2004 and has yet to regain its dominance as one of the largest companies America has to offer.
2005: Katrina Hits, Markets Stall
Stocks stagnated this year as consumer spending took a back seat due to a sharp rise in oil prices largely induced by geopolitical tensions in the Middle East. The S&P 500 Index would go on to rise by nearly 5% on the year, although its total market cap suffered a decrease of roughly $50 billion.
This year saw the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina, which hit the coastal areas of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama with full force and no mercy. This year also saw Steve Fossett break a world record by successfully flying non-stop around the world without refueling.
Largest Component: General Electric ($370.3 billion), despite losing about $15 billion in market cap compared to the previous year.
Top 10 Market Cap: $2.35 trillion, down slightly from the $2.4 trillion mark posted in 2004. Though markets were not particularly weak, Hurricane Katrina virtually halted growth and progress on Wall Street given its wide-ranging impact.
Newcomers: Far from a newcomer to the stage, consumer-staples giant Procter & Gamble found its way back on to the top 10 list.
Whatever Happened To: IBM. The American blue-chip fell off the radar although this juggernaut would find its way back a few years later in 2009.
2006: Exxon Takes The Crown
Bullish euphoria picked up steam again and markets continued their trek higher with the S&P 500 Index gaining 15% on the year. It would also be a good year for the top 10 firms, as the posted a solid market capitalization increase of nearly $250 billion.
In 2006 Saddam Hussein was found guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced to death while North Korea carried out its first test of a nuclear weapon. On the business front, Google completed its acquisition of YouTube for $1.65 billion in stock. The U.S. Energy department also revealed that the Green River basin contained more than a trillion barrels in shale crude. Finally, Barry Bonds hit his 715 home-run, surpassing Babe Ruth on the all-time list.
Largest Component: Exxon Mobil ($446.9 billion). The oil giant added nearly $100 billion in market cap, and took over the top spot.
Top 10 Market Cap: $2.60 trillion, up from about $2.35 trillion the year before.
Newcomers: There were no newcomers as the top 10 list was reshuffled, with Exxon dethroning General Electric for the number one spot.
Whatever Happened To: Exxon Mobil in 2006. The oil & gas giant claimed victory when it jumped to the top of the list after experiencing a massive surge in market cap. All-in-all, the firm saw its value jump by nearly $100 billion as it continued to flourish.
2007: Housing Bubble Pops
Despite posting a gain of 5% in 2007, the S&P 500 Index would embark on a steep decline the following year as home prices tumbled and sparked a wave of foreclosures across the country. This would lead the United States into the worst recession it had seen in over 70 years, as many consider it to be our modern day “depression.”
On the homefront, Fischer Price recalled over one million Chinese-made toys due to lead poisoning, while Apple revolutionized the consumer electronics industry with its launch of the iPhone. Exxon Mobil saw yet another massive jump in market cap, growing by nearly $65 billion on the year. This year also saw Nancy Pelosi elected as the Speaker of Congress, the first female to ever hold the position.
Largest Component: Exxon Mobil ($511.9 billion). The climb continued for the oil giant, as total value surged from less than $450 billion the previous year.
Top 10 Market Cap: $2.68 trillion, a modest increase from the $2.6 trillion total posted in the previous year.
Newcomers: Google found its way into the rankings after securing video-giant YouTube the prior year, while Chevron made its debut on the list in 2007 as well.
Whatever Happened To: Big financials including Citigroup and AIG fell off the radar as the housing bubble hit this sector hardest the following year.
2008: The Great Recession
No major shifts as far as the top 10 are concerned, but 2008 is a year many investors remember well, as the S&P 500 took a nasty tumble. The bellwether index lost more than 36%, as the U.S. financial crisis wreaked havoc on equities across the board. This would, unfortunately, only be the beginning of global economic woes, which spread to other areas of the world in the coming months and years.
And so you have the term “The Great Recession,” as this period marks the worst economic period since The Great Depression. Analysts have never been able to agree on an official recovery date, as many feel that this downturn caused damage that would take more than a few years to reverse.
Largest Component: Exxon Mobil ($406.1 billion). Exxon’s market cap declined by more than $100 billion in a year–though some companies saw much bigger sell-offs on a percentage basis.
Top 10 Market Cap: $1.87 trillion. Stocks fell off a cliff; just one year earlier, the top 10 had a combined value of $2.7 trillion.
Newcomers: JP Morgan Chase & Co was able to take over the tenth slot as “Big Banks” were at the epicenter of the economy and how it would move forward.
Whatever Happened To: Lehman Brothers. Sure, they weren’t in the top 10 in 2008, but they were still one of the biggest investment firms of the day. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on September 15, 2008 just before 2 a.m. After going bankrupt, Nomura Holdings acquired a number of the remaining assets that the firm had left to offer.
2009: The Road to Recovery (Part II…or III?)
After reaching its low point, the S&P 500 was able to post a massive 26% jump in 2009, as the economy finally found its footing. Though it would not get stocks out of the hole by any means, 2009 was a bright spot in an otherwise dismal economic outlook.
In a year that would see Barack Obama inaugurated as the 44th President and the death of pop king Michael Jackson, the investing world was benefiting from a much-needed boost. Elsewhere, Bill Clinton would meet with Kim Jong-il to grant pardons to two American journalists who had been incarcerated for illegal entry to the country earlier in the year.
Largest Component: Exxon Mobil ($323.7 billion). Exxon continued to slide, declining from more than $400 billion a year earlier, a loss of nearly 20%.
Top 10 Market Cap: $2.04 trillion. Despite Exxon’s freefall, the total value of the 10 largest companies actually grew from less than $1.9 trillion a year earlier.
Newcomers: Apple Inc. With Steve Jobs at the helm, the popular iProduct series were beginning to take global consumers by storm. The iPod, iPhone and iTunes products were among some of the most popular items in the world, as the tech giant set a new standard for quality and user-friendliness for the rest of the competing space.
2010: New Sheriff In Town
And so begins Apple’s historic run, as it would not be long before this tech giant would become the largest company in the United States by market cap. Exxon Mobil would hold the crown through 2011 when Apple would surge in size and investor popularity shortly thereafter.
The S&P 500 was able to add another 15% in 2010, as the recovery efforts remained strong. This same year would also see a second round of quantitative easing from the Fed, something that many government institutions cite as a major source of growth for the economy, while others are not so sure. This year would see the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill ravage the gulf as well as the successful rescue of 33 Chilean miners after being trapped for 68 days below ground.
Largest Component: Exxon Mobil ($368.7 billion). Exxon finally reversed the slide, jumping from less than $325 billion in the previous year–a jump of 13.4%.
Top 10 Market Cap: $2.22 trillion–up nicely from $2.04 trillion the year before, but still shy of 2003 levels. The 8.8% jump was certainly welcomed, but not enough to shake off the initial blow from the recession, as many were still reeling from depressed stock prices and a lack of investor confidence.
Newcomers: Berkshire Hathaway. It may be surprising to see Berkshire make a sudden jump into the fourth slot given that it had never appeared in the top 10 prior to 2010. Warren Buffet’s company was able to make the top list not because it had a major jump in market cap, but rather that its B-class shares were created and were eligible for inclusion in the index, while the A shares were not.
2011 brought about the argument as to whether or not markets had fully recovered from the 2008 crash, and there was never a firm answer one way or the other, as each expert had their own opinions on the matter. Some felt that the United States was on the verge of a double-dip, while others carried a more bullish sentiment.
The top 10 firms were able to tack on another year of cumulative market growth, as the S&P 500 gained a meager 1.89% in a lackluster year that saw many call for a double dip recession in 2012; luckily those predictions would not pan out. This year saw the deaths of both Osama Bin Laden and Muammar Gaddafi as well as a heated revolution in Egypt.
Exxon Mobil ($406.3 billion), up considerably from less than $370 billion a year earlier. Though Exxon enjoyed the top spot, Apple would take over the number slot for much of 2012 as the cash-rich firm would surge in investor interest and stock price alike.
Top 10 Market Cap:
$2.41 trillion, approximately the same value the top 10 companies held in 2004. Note that the S&P would endure a rough stretch during August of 2011, as the United Sates was handed its first-ever downgrade from a domestic ratings agency. Mounting debts and worries over the ability to pay them back became the theme for the latter half of the year and would persist well into the next year.
No big changes this year as no new companies infiltrated the top 10
2012: Quietly Impressive
Though 2012 has been a rocky road, stocks have generally done quite well so far. January seems like ages ago at this point, so many have forgotten the impressive rallies in equity markets to kick off 2012. Though recent months have been marked by some big swings and several rising risk factors, the S&P 500 is still comfortably in positive territory for the year and could finish 2012 with a gain of about 15%.
Largest Component: Apple took back its top spot, briefly flirting with a $600 billion valuation before declining to around $500 billion as the stock price wilted late in the year. Still, the tech giant posted a huge gain relative to just one year ago.
Top 10 Market Cap: $2.55 trillion, a slight increase from the total valuation at the end of 2011. approximately the same value the top 10 companies held in 2004.
Newcomers: There continues to be day-to-day reshuffling in the top ten components, with several of these stocks very close in value. There has also been quite a bit of turnover in the top ten; Berkshire Hathaway and Google are out, and Pfizer has wiggled its way back into the top ten. Perhaps more noteworthy, Wal-Mart isn’t in the top ten for the first time since 1997 (WMT’s total market cap of about $230 billion is one of the largest in the world, but the float-adjusted feature of the S&P 500 leaves it on the outside o fthe top 10 looking in).
All market caps are in millions
For more ETF and index insights, sign up for the free ETFdb newsletter.
ETF Database is not an investment advisor, and any content published by ETF Database does not constitute individual investment advice. The opinions offered herein are not personalized recommendations to buy, sell or hold securities. From time to time, issuers of exchange-traded products mentioned herein may place paid advertisements with ETF Database. All content on ETF Database is produced independently of any advertising relationships. Read the full disclaimer here.