Latin America’s economic landscape has long been home to an array of dynamic and influential companies that have played a pivotal role in driving regional and international growth. This article will explore the 10 largest Latin American companies as of April 2023. By focusing on market capitalization, a key indicator of a company’s overall value, we can gain valuable insights into the scale and influence of these companies. We will then provide some information on the factors that have propelled them to the forefront of their respective business landscape.
1. Vale S.A. (Brazil)
Kicking off our list, we have Vale S.A., a Brazilian multinational mining company, securing its position as the largest Latin American company and a key player in the global mining industry. With a rich historical legacy that spans over seven decades, Vale has consistently demonstrated its commitment to innovation, sustainable practices, and resource extraction. For example, Vale is aiming to use 100% renewable energy globally by 2030. Originally founded in 1942 as Companhia Vale do Rio Doce, the company began as a state-owned entity focused on iron ore extraction. Over the years, Vale expanded its operations, becoming a leading producer and exporter of iron ore, nickel, copper, coal, and other minerals. Today, Vale stands as the 4th largest global mining company with a market cap of $72bn at the end of Q1 2023, contributing significantly to Brazil’s economy and representing Latin America’s immense potential in the extractive industry. Vale has taken a slight dip in stocks recently but has a history of bouncing back strongly from similar dips, possibly indicating that now may be a good time to buy.
2. Walmart Mexico (Mexico)
Secondly, we have Walmart Mexico, the Mexican division of the renowned multinational retail corporation Walmart, which has firmly established itself as a dominant force in the Latin American retail sector. The company’s journey began in 1991 when Walmart acquired the Mexican retail chain Cifra, marking its entry into the Mexican market. Since then, Walmart Mexico has experienced significant growth (with its market cap increasing tenfold since the early 2000s), expanding its presence with various store formats, including Walmart Supercenters, Sam’s Club, and Bodega Aurrera. Walmart Mexico continues to expand to this day, completing an acquisition of Trafalgar Digital SA de CV on 7th March 2023. The grocery industry in Latin America as a whole is also beginning to recover from the turmoil of the pandemic, and McKinsey forecasts 5% growth in 2023, indicating the capacity to make decent returns on Walmart Mexico, and other Latin American grocery companies.
3. América Móvil S.A. (Mexico)
The second Mexican company on our list, América Móvil S.A.B. de C.V., commonly known as América Móvil, has emerged as a telecommunications giant in Latin America, providing a wide range of communication services across the region. With a short but storied history dating back to its founding in 2000, América Móvil has experienced remarkable growth and expansion. The company was established as a result of a spin-off from Telmex, the Mexican telecommunications company founded by Carlos Slim. Since its inception, América Móvil has strategically acquired and integrated numerous telecommunications operators, positioning itself as a dominant player in the Latin American market. Through its subsidiaries, including Telcel in Mexico, Claro in various countries, and many other brands, América Móvil offers mobile, fixed-line, broadband, and pay-TV services, connecting millions of customers throughout the region. América Móvil, however, does face strong competition from other global telecommunication companies of similar sizes, such as BCE Inc and Charter Communications INC. However, the global nature of América Móvil means that even though it is one of the largest companies in Latin America, it does have some security against regional slowdowns with significant North American and European divisions.
4. Mercado Libre (Argentina)
Mercado Libre, often referred to as the “eBay of Latin America,” has revolutionized e-commerce and digital payments in the region since its inception in 1999. Founded by Marcos Galperin in Argentina, Mercado Libre started as an online marketplace connecting buyers and sellers, providing a platform for individuals and businesses to engage in online transactions. Over time, the company expanded its services to include Mercado Pago, a digital payment system, and Mercado Envíos, a logistics and shipping solution. This diversification further solidified Mercado Libre’s position as a comprehensive e-commerce ecosystem in Latin America, with a market cap of $59.94bn. With operations in multiple countries, including Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, and Chile, Mercado Libre remains a huge player in the e-commerce industry in Latin America. In fact, Mercado Libre appeared on the Financial Times’s list of the Americas’ Fastest Growing Companies in 2023, indicating the potential for returns.
5. Petrobras S.A. (Brazil)
Petrobras, short for Petróleo Brasileiro S.A., holds a significant place in Latin America’s energy sector, tracing its roots back to 1953 when it was established as a state-owned oil and gas company in Brazil. Over the decades, Petrobras has evolved into a global player, encompassing the exploration, production, refining, and distribution of petroleum products. With extensive offshore reserves, Petrobras has become one of the world’s largest oil producers. The company’s history is marked by expansion, positioning Brazil as a key player in the global oil and gas industry. However, Petrobras has faced various challenges, including corruption scandals and financial difficulties, which have led to significant reforms and transformations within the organization. There has also been significant turmoil in recent years regarding the chief executive role of the organisation, which is chosen by the president of Brazil. Despite this, the share price over the past 5 or so years (despite taking a hit during the pandemic and dipping in December 2022) has remained broadly stable and close to pre-pandemic levels. This is especially impressive given the political landscape of Brazil in recent years. However, as with all energy companies, their environmental policy in years to come will be the biggest factor for share prices.
6. Ambev S.A. (Brazil)
Ambev, the brewing company headquartered in Brazil, has a vibrant history that dates back to the late 19th century. The company’s origins can be traced to Companhia Antarctica Paulista, established in 1885, and Companhia Cervejaria Brahma, founded in 1888. These two iconic Brazilian breweries merged in 1999 to form Ambev (short for Companhia de Bebidas das Américas), marking a significant milestone in the consolidation of the brewing industry in Latin America. Since its inception, Ambev has experienced impressive growth, expanding its reach not only within Brazil but also throughout the region and beyond. Ambev saw a period of high growth in the early to mid-2010s and has since returned broadly to its long-term trend share price, showing impressive stability. However, Ambev took a hit during the pandemic, and the share price has yet to return to pre-pandemic levels. That being said, Ambev is up 7.88% from last year, so maybe we are witnessing a slightly delayed recovery from the pandemic. The company is renowned for its diverse portfolio of popular beer brands, such as Brahma, Skol, Antarctica, and Quilmes, and caters to a significant number of consumers in Latin America.
7. Itaú Unibanco Holding S.A. (Brazil)
Itaú Unibanco, one of the largest financial institutions in Latin America, has a storied history that dates back over a century. Itaú Unibanco originated from the merger of Banco Itaú and Unibanco in 2008, creating a banking titan in Brazil and solidifying its position as a key player in the region’s financial landscape. Banco Itaú, founded in 1945, was renowned for its consumer-centric approach and innovation in banking services. Unibanco, established in 1924, had a strong presence in retail and corporate banking. The merger of these two institutions resulted in a combined entity that offers a wide range of financial products and services to individuals, businesses, and institutional clients. However, in recent years Itaú Unibanco has had some issues with its expansive merger and acquisition strategy, with the Brazilian central bank preventing any more acquisitions within Brazil. This may begin to curb Itaú Unibanco’s impressive growth since its inception, but there is still a post-pandemic upward trend indicating an eventual return to pre-pandemic levels, and with a 26.90% year-on-year change, it appears that Itaú Unibanco’s strategy to look beyond Brazil for potential growth opportunities is working for the moment. Itaú Unibanco claims to be committed to technological advancements, financial inclusion, and sustainable practices, and with a robust branch network and a shifting focus to digital banking solutions, despite setbacks, Itaú Unibanco still plays an important role in the financial landscape of Brazil and Latin America.
8. Grupo Mexico (Mexico)
Grupo México, a prominent Mexican conglomerate, has a rich history deeply intertwined with the country’s mining industry. The company traces its origins back to 1942 when it was established as Grupo México del Centro, primarily focused on copper mining operations. Over the years, Grupo México expanded its operations and diversified its portfolio, becoming one of the largest mining corporations in the Americas. The company’s significant growth can be attributed to aggressive strategic acquisitions, including the purchase of Asarco in the United States and the Southern Peru Copper Corporation. Grupo México’s expertise spans various minerals, including copper, molybdenum, zinc, and silver. Beyond mining, the conglomerate has diversified into other sectors, such as infrastructure, transportation, and energy. However, Grupo Mexico continues to be embroiled in labour disputes in the mining sector, which have closed down many mining locations in the past 10 or so years. There is significant political pressure to resolve these disputes but this may limit Grupo Mexico’s potential for growth until these problems are resolved.
9. WEG S.A. (Brazil)
WEG S.A., a Brazilian multinational company, has established itself as a global leader in the electrical equipment industry. The company’s journey began in 1961 when it was founded as Eletromotores Jaraguá, specializing in the production of electric motors. Over the years, WEG expanded its product portfolio and capabilities, offering a comprehensive range of electrical solutions, including motors, generators, transformers, drives, and automation technologies. The company’s commitment to innovation, quality, and customer satisfaction propelled its growth, enabling it to expand its operations internationally and establish a presence in over 135 countries, gaining a market capitalisation of R$157.17bn and seeing impressive yearly growth of 38.12%. WEG has also made impressive inroads into sustainability projects such as electric vehicles and wind turbines.
10. Fomento económico Mexicano (Mexico)
Fomento Económico Mexicano, commonly known as FEMSA, is a Mexican multinational conglomerate with a rich history that spans over a century. The company’s roots can be traced back to 1890 when it was founded as Cervecería Cuauhtémoc, initially operating as a brewery. Over time, FEMSA expanded its operations and diversified its business interests, venturing into various sectors such as beverage production, convenience stores, and logistics. The acquisition of Coca-Cola FEMSA in 1993 marked a significant milestone, positioning FEMSA as one of the largest Coca-Cola bottlers in the world. FEMSA has seen the largest yearly share price percentage increase on this list, with an increase of 73.52%. This shows that FEMSA’s goal of simplifying their business is popular with shareholders, with sales of stakes in companies such as Jetro Restaurant Depot and Heineken. Today, FEMSA operates as a leading beverage company in Mexico, producing famous brands such as Coca-Cola, Tecate, Sol, and OXXO, the largest chain of convenience stores in the country.
Latin American Companies Takeaways
Latin America offers lucrative investment opportunities. When it comes to trading Latin American companies, platforms like Hantec Markets offer a comprehensive solution. Hantec Markets provides access to various Latin American stocks, allowing traders to buy and sell shares directly. Tracking the performance of Latin American companies can be done through a variety of channels. Traders and investors can also utilize financial news platforms, such as CNBC Latin America, Reuters, and the Financial Times to stay updated on market trends, company announcements, and economic indicators impacting Latin American markets. For conducting technical analysis, popular platforms like MetaTrader 4 (MT4) and MetaTrader 5 (MT5) are widely used by traders worldwide. Both MT4 and MT5 provide access to a wide range of markets, including Latin American stocks, allowing traders to apply technical analysis techniques to these companies. In addition to trading and investment information, it is important to consider some general aspects of the Latin American market. Latin America boasts a diverse economy, with sectors such as mining, telecommunications, retail, finance, and energy playing key roles. Political stability, economic policies, and regulatory frameworks are crucial factors to consider when investing in Latin American companies. It is also essential to stay informed about regional geopolitical developments and currency fluctuations that may impact investment returns.
Learn more about the biggest companies in different countries and regions around the world by reading our other articles:
- Top 10 Largest US Companies by Market Capitalisation
- Top-10 largest non-US companies by market capitalisation
- 10 Biggest UK-based Companies
- Africa’s Top-10: Leading Companies by Market Capitalisation
Also, we recommend you to find out with our Trader’s Guide to the 10 Major Global Economies by GDP.