5 Biggest Pharmaceutical Companies by Market Cap

- September 11th, 2017

Major players in the pharmaceutical industry include Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, Roche, Pfizer and Merck.

The pharmaceutical sector is mostly a long term play that can offer massive benefits with the right technologies and the smart research. Some of the giants in this space dominate the major advancements of the area thanks to their resources.
Investors interested in this area can find benefits from looking at the potential gains from investing in some of the largest pharmaceutical companies available. Despite their steep cost in the market, their gains overshadow anything being done below them. The developments and approvals of these companies, often send their stocks to even higher places and thanks to the performance of the life science market as a whole, there are new options avialable in terms of personalized medicine products and treatments.
With that in mind, the Investing News Network (INN) put together some information on the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the field by market cap.

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Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ)

Market Cap: $356.89 billion
Q2 2017 net income: $3.8 billion
Johnson & Johnson is a holding company focused on the healthcare field. In life science, companies often specify their focus but thanks to the massive scale that Johnson & Johnson enjoys, the company can gravitate over many areas of the field.
The company spans subdivisions all over the globe, and even those engage companies in different sectors to acquire their advances or pursue partnerships to advance their business opportunities.
As part of their most recent quarterly release, the company announced it had reached $18.8 billion in sales – with operational sales increasing 2.9 percent and domestic sales enjoying a 1.6 percent bump. Similarly, international sales had a 2.3 percent growth in the quarter.

“Our pharmaceutical pipeline continued its strong momentum with the approval of TREMFYA as well as the submission and approval of several key line extensions,” Alex Gorsky, chairman, and CEO said in a press release.

Over a year to date period, the company has enjoyed a 15.42 percent increase to its stock.

Roche Holding (OTCMKTS:RHHBY)

Market Cap: $223.61 billion
First half 2017 group sales: $26.3 billion
Roche is one of the largest biotech companies in the field. Their reach expands into oncology, immunology, diseases related to the central nervous system and ophthalmology.
The company issued a detailed look at their financials for the first half of 2017. In it, Roche showcased a group sale increase of five percent, the same amount of growth seen by the pharmaceutical division of the company. Their new medicines, Tecentriq, Ocrevus, and Alecensa, provided half a billion in new sales. These new products received approvals earlier this year according to the company.
The company is also engaged in multiple clinical studies including IMvigor211, which in its phase III is evaluating Tecentriq with patients of locally advanced or metastatic urothelial cancer.
Roche CEO Severin Schwan said the launch of Ocrevus was “particularly pleasing for the company.
“Based on our half-year performance, we raised the outlook for the full-year to mid-single digit sales growth,” Schwan added.
Over a year to date period on the OTC Market, Roche has enjoyed 10.74 percent increase.

Pfizer (NYSE:PFE)

Market Cap: $204.17 billion
Q2 Revenue: $12.9 billion

Another giant of the medical world, Pfizer has been active in the development of multiple healthcare products. Its two divisions, Pfizer Innovative Health and Pfizer Essential Health, provide the main business for the company through the development medicines and vaccines and research into internal medicine, vaccines, oncology, inflammation and immunology, rare diseases and consumer healthcare.

Despite a decreasing end of January, the company has seen a favorable year so far with a 5.56 percent increase so far year-to-date. Even though they saw a two percent decline in its quarterly revenue this year, the company still reported $12.9 billion.

“We have a strong pipeline with a steady flow of scientific innovation coming from all of our key therapeutic areas. Over the next five years, we project the potential for approximately 25 to 30 approvals of which up to 15 have the potential to be blockbusters,” Ian Read, chairman, and CEO of Pfizer said.

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Novartis (NYSE:NVS)

Market Cap: $222.84 billion
Q2 Net Sales: $12.2 billion
Novartis made headlines this year by receiving the approval of the FDA on the first CAR-T treatment available in the market. Kymriah is a medication, according to FiercePharma consisting of re-engineered T-cells collected from the patient, then reapplied to combat cancer cells causing a rare form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Joseph Jimenez, CEO of Novartis said the company was proud to be part of the historic approval.

During their second quarter financials report, the company announced it had seen a negative impact to its net sales due to the increase of generic competition and pricing. The year has been favorable for Novartis as its stock experiences a 17.48 percent increase year-to-date.
Jimenez highlighted at the time the company’s pipeline of new products claiming the company had reported positive data from four of their trials. “The trajectory of the current growth drivers reinforces our confidence in our next growth phase, which we expect to start in 2018,” Jimenez added.
The company announced it will appoint Vas Narasimhan, their own drug development chief as CEO once Jimenez steps down in February of next year.

Merck (NYSE:MRK)

Market Cap: $177.63 billion
Worldwide sales: $9.9 billion
Merck has risen as a global healthcare company operating in four different market areas: pharmaceuticals, animal health, healthcare services and alliances.
Merck launched a partnership with Incyte to combine their immune-oncology drug Epacadfostat and the company’s own Keytruda cancer treatment in patients with melanoma. This combination provided some encouraging results with increased effectiveness in neutralizing cancer.
As part of their second quarter financial disclosure, the company highlighted the approval of Keytruda by the FDA under the accelerated approval program. The company has seen a substantial 10.63 percent increase to its stock so far in 2017.
CEO Kenneth C. Frazier said the company has seen strong results in this quarter thanks to “robust momentum” for Keytruda. This year Frazier earned himself some criticizing tweets from the president himself, following his departure of a special counsel and public shaming of the president in defending violent protesters at an alt-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Securities Disclosure: I, Bryan Mc Govern, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.
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** This article has been updated. Please scroll to the top for the most recent information**

Pharmaceutical investing is risky but it can have astounding payoffs for investors willing to do their research. One key point to note is that established companies are generally less risky to invest in than ones just getting off the ground. By knowing who the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the market are, investors can take cues from trends seen in the interest in their portfolio pipeline to get a better understanding of what to look for across the industry as a whole. 
The five biggest pharmaceutical companies include:

  • Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ)
  • Pfizer (NYSE:PFE)
  • Novartis (NYSE:NVS)
  • Merck (NYSE:MRK)

Here is a look at the 2016 performance of the biggest pharmaceutical companies by market cap. 

Johnson & Johnson

  • Market cap: $313.40 billion
  • Q3 2016 net income: $4.3 billion

Johnson & Johnson is one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world. The company is involved in research and development, as well as manufacturing and sales, for a broad range of products within the healthcare field. Its business is broken down into three main segments: consumer products, pharmaceutical products and medical devices and diagnostics.
Its 2016 Q3 results show sales of $17.8 billion, an increase of 4.2 percent from the same time last year. Domestic sales grew by 6.7 percent, while international sales increased by 1.5 percent. International growth was inhibited by operations in Venezuela.

In a company release, Chairman and CEO Alex Gorsky said the company is “increasingly confident in our pipeline expectation of filing 10 new pharmaceutical products between 2015 and 2019, each with revenue potential over $1 billion.”

“Our third-quarter results reflect the success of our new product launches and the strength of our core businesses, driven by strong growth in our Pharmaceuticals business,” he stated.


  • Market cap: $196.59 billion
  • YTD income: $37.5 billion

This Switzerland-based company develops and manufactures prescription drugs and diagnostic products in the areas of oncology, dermatology, transplantations and autoimmune and respiratory diseases.
Roche reported a four percent sales growth for the first three quarters of 2016, earning over $37 billion. Year to date, its pharmaceuticals division has brought in $29 billion, as compared to $27 billion last year. Driving sales in the US were three immunology treatments: Xolair, Esbriet and Actemra/RoActemra. European sales grew as a result of Perjeta, Actemra/RoActemra and MabTheraRituxan.


  • Market cap: $181.30 billion
  • Q3 2016 net income: $13 billion

Pfizer is a global pharmaceutical company that develops and produces medicines, including prescription pharmaceuticals, non-prescription self medications and animal health products. According to its recent financial report, third quarter revenues amounted to 13 billion. The company also lowered the top range of its projected earnings per share, as a result of its decision to discontinue development of bococizumab, a cholesterol medication.

Chairman and CEO Ian Read said the following: “Our business continues to perform well as demonstrated by the quarter’s financial results … we are in a strong position to support the strategic initiatives for each business and will remain opportunistic to business development activity.”


  • Market cap: $183.34 billion
  • Q3 2016 net income: $1.9 billion

Novartis produces pharmaceutical and consumer healthcare products for a wide range of issues, including cardiovascular, respiratory and infectious diseases, and vaccines and diagnostics.

Despite losing patent protection for Gleevec, Novartis delivered a strong third quarter in 2016. Net sales came to $12.1 billion, led by growth products like Gilenya and Cosentyx.

“Novartis delivered a solid Q3 despite the Gleevac generic impact in the US, due to the strong performance of our growth products,” said Joseph Jimenez, CEO of Novartis. “We continued to drive innovation, with positive pipeline readouts for LEE011 in advanced breast cancer, BAF312 in SPMS and AMG 334 in episodic migraine. We are continuing to invest for the future, as we manage the Gleevec loss of exclusivity in 2016 and 2017.”


  • Market cap: $163.17 billion
  • Q3 2016 net income: $2.1 billion

New Jersey-based Novartis rounds out the five biggest pharmaceutical companies. It delivers global health solutions through the production of vaccines, prescription medicines, biologic therapies and consumer care products.

During Q1 2016 its worldwide sales dropped 1 percent, to $9.3 billion. But Q3 has seen those revenues bounce back: sales amounted to $10.5 billion, an increase of five percent from this time last year.

The company also received positive news about several product candidates, including KEYTRUDA, a cancer treatment. The FDA has approved two supplemental Biologics License Applications for this drug.

“The latest achievements for KEYTRUDA and other recent regulatory approvals across our portfolio show that our innovation strategy is working,” said Kenneth C Frazier, Merck’s CEO and chairman. “We are confident that our focus on the science, along with continued commercial execution, will drive long term results for the company and our shareholders.”

Securities Disclosure: I, Vivien Diniz, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

This is an updated version of an article originally published on November 26, 2015.

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