An employee counts Hong Kong 500-dollar banknotes as a customer purchases the Apple Inc. iPhone XS and a protective case at an Apple store during its launch in Hong Kong, China. (Photographer: Anthony Kwan/Bloomberg)

World's Top Moneymakers: Apple Aces Again, Autos Crash Out

(Bloomberg) -- Over the past year, the best way to make money was to be a Chinese bank. Or Apple Inc.

The Cupertino-based smartphone maker led the world for the fourth straight time with $57.2 billion in net income, based on the trailing 12 months through March. Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. and China Construction Bank Ltd. ranked next, aided by Beijing’s policy push to spur credit and beat back a deepening economic slowdown.

For the first time in eight years, neither a drug maker nor a car company was among the top 15 moneymakers.

World's Top Moneymakers: Apple Aces Again, Autos Crash Out

Bloomberg surveyed April-to-March results to mirror Japan’s fiscal year, where most firms just reported annual results. For others whose fiscal follows the calendar or oddballs such as Apple which start from October, the analysis crosses over into more than one financial year.

With nine spots, financial services firms make up the biggest chunk of money-spinners in the list with U.S. and China having a tally of four each. JPMorgan Chase & Co. made the most money among American banks.

A decade ago, it would have taken just $14 billion to break into the top 15. The top six back then were from the energy industry, led by Exxon Mobil Corp., which was at 20th spot in the latest ranking.

Berkshire’s Nightmare

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. ranked 11th as it tackled a tweak in accounting rules, which its billionaire-founder has described as a “nightmare”. Warren Buffett’s investment firm would have barely made the Top 200 using the 2018 annual result, hurt by the new regulations that can, according to Buffett, significantly distort profit by including stock swings.

Toyota Motor Corp., which reported annual results last week, dropped out of the ranking as manufacturers struggled with changing consumer tastes, tariffs and the cost of investing in electric and self-driving cars.

Medicine makers world over are struggling to fend off lawsuits, find patent-protected drugs or boost profits in the face of a bitter price war in non-patented drugs. Johnson & Johnson, the top performer in the sector, came in at number 27 over the period analyzed.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.