Average lifespan of companies


Lifespan of companies discussion in my books

I have discussed the lifespan of companies, relative topics, in my latest book; including:

In my book “The Rules of Super Growth Stocks Investing“:

  • 2-2 sections of a book, 80 to 81 pages. There used to be the following:

The average lifespan of listed companies in the U.S. stock market is about 20 years. According to data from Deloitte & Touche, the constituent stocks of the S&P 500 Index in the 1960s of the last century had an average lifespan of 32 years in the index. But now it is only 24 years; according to the data of CB Insights, an American research institution, the companies in the S&P 500 Index had an average lifespan of 61 years in the index in 1955, which dropped to 17 years in 2015, and it may be even higher in the future short.

Credit Suisse (Credit Suisse, ticker: CS) according to BDS (U.S. Census’s Business Dynamics Statistics) statistics since 1977, shows that less than 50% of listed companies have a life span of 10 years or more; statistics in 2016, 1 The one-year life expectancy rate is 75%, and the five-year life expectancy rate is 45%.

Research at Dartmouth College

Two professors Vijay Govindarajan and Anup Srivastava of Dartmouth College, have conducted research on American companies; the main points are as follows.

Average Lifespan of American Businesses

According to a report by Fortune magazine in the United States, 62% of American companies have an average lifespan of less than five years, small and medium-sized enterprises less than seven years, multinational companies 10 to 12 years, and the longest lifespan is a large enterprise, which is less than 40 years.

All 29,688 U.S. stock market-listed companies between 1960 and 2009 were included. According to the time when companies went public, group them in units of ten years, and check how many companies in each group are still alive five years after going public. The results confirm the continuing shrinking of corporate lifespans: companies that went public before 1970 had a 92 percent chance of surviving the next five years, whereas companies that went public between 2000 and 2009, Controlling for factors such as the bursting of the road bubble and the financial tsunami, the survival rate is still only 63%.

Differences between old and new companies

They found that, on average, companies listed after 2000 spend twice and half as much on organizational capital and physical assets as companies listed before 2000. “The newer entrants are based on novel business models that can be launched and delivered quickly, such as digital services,” they write. “This gives them an advantage over typical manufacturers because ‘idea’ firms do not require expensive infrastructure , such as factories, warehouses, and suppliers.” But this advantage is a double-edged sword, they add: “The good news is that newer businesses are more agile. The bad news is that these businesses have a short lifespan unless they can continue to innovate.”

The two Dartmouth researchers identified the types of companies that led to the rise in death rates–compared with companies that went public before 2000, most companies, especially large and well-known companies, Singularity is the most typical representative General Electric (ticker: GE), they are usually companies with factories, products, and supply chains. The new generation of companies listed after 2000, most of which are digital companies, are more vulnerable to a major blow from rapid imitation.

“Creative destruction has always been a force that has to be taken into account, but in the physical world, the cycles are slower. In technology-based industries, the cycle speeds up,” Govindarajan said.

What about companies in other countries?

What is the situation in the countries of the world?

Statistics from the U.S. magazine FORTUNE also show that the average life expectancy of the top 500 companies in the world is 40 to 42 years, while that of the top 100 companies is only 30 years.

Nikkei Weekly surveyed 100 large companies in Japan and found that the prosperity of ordinary companies will not exceed 30 years. According to Toshio Goto’s research results in 2019, the average life expectancy of Japanese people is the longest in the world, and it is also the country with the most century-old companies. In contrast, Chinese companies only have an average life expectancy of 3 years.

According to statistics from the Small and Medium Enterprises Office of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the average lifespan of small and medium enterprises in Taiwan is only 13 years. At present, more than half of the listed counter companies in Taiwan have been established for more than 30 years, and the average age of the companies is about 33 years.


Key Points about lifespan of companies

What I want to remind investors is that the longevity of listed companies has a lot to do with the performance of stock prices. Investors can study carefully from the following points. Not only can it assist investors in screening target companies, but it can also help investors obtain better returns.

According to the actual data in section 2-2 of my book “The Rules of Super Growth Stocks Investing“; most of the stock price increases of listed companies in the United States occurred in the first 20 years; after 20 to 30 years, most listed companies have entered a mature and stable period of business , the share price increase will not be too large.

According to the research of market research companies, after a listed company is listed, the first period of delisting is 4 to 5 years after listing.

In the 50 years from 1965 to 2014, only 77 Fortune 500 companies remained in the S&P 500 Index, which shows the high degree of replacement.

Ex-big U.S. listed companies in 1990

Most people probably firmly believe that good stocks will always do well. but it is not the truth. From 1970 to 1980, the favorite stock of most institutional investors is Schlumberger Oilfield Company (ticker: SLB); although it is still a very outstanding company today, its past superstar status in the stock market has long since disappeared. In the 1980s, IBM’s (ticker: IBM) dominance in the computer industry was considered unsurpassable. A hundred years ago, the most profitable and best managed company in the United States was the Pennsylvania Railroad (defunct).

The 5 oldest companies in the world

Consolidated Edison

Energy company Consolidated Edison (US: ED ) was founded 197 years ago in New York City and remains a thriving business today.

Lloyd’s of London

Lloyd’s of London was founded in London over 333 years ago and is still very much alive today. The insurance business of Lloyd’s of London is mainly general insurance and reinsurance, but occasionally ventures into other areas such as life insurance.

International Business Machines

Founded in New York in 1911, International Business Machines (ticker: IBM) remains a technological powerhouse to this day. For an in-depth introduction to IBM, see my previous post “How does IBM make money? What’s next?“.

Tuttle Farm

Tuttle Farm in New Hampshire was the oldest continuously operating family farm in the United States at 381 years before it was acquired by another local farm in 2013.

Kongo Gumi

This thousand-year-old shop was founded in 578 AD. Like Tuttle Farm, Kongo Gumi ceased trading in 2006, but it is the oldest family-run business in the world dating back to the 14th century, building Buddhist temples and later coffins.


Amazon founder Jeff Bezos once said that large companies generally only exist for more than 30 years. I personally agree with Bezos’ observation, which is especially applicable to listed technology companies in the United States. Of course there are exceptions, but that’s the general average.

credit: internationalmediasales.net

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