America's 7 Most Profitable Products

Cans of Monster Beverage Corp. energy drinks are displayed for a photograph in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Monday, April 30, 2012. Monster Beverage Corp. surged the most in almost eight years after the Wall Street Journal reported Coca-Cola Co. is in talks to buy the maker of energy drinks. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
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Successful companies may become giants, with large catalogs of products, but they frequently rely heavily on just one brand for a major chunk of their sales and profits; just consider iconic brands such as Coke, Marlboro cigarettes or the iPhone -- market leaders in their sectors, mass produced at an unprecedented scale, they are the hearts of their respective empires.

The biggest such sellers also make the nation's most profitable products, often using their brand power to command a premium price, and always using it to sell in vast volume. They are well managed and well marketed, and it shows. It's factors like those that win them spots on lists of the world's most valuable brands produced by consultancies like Interbrand and BrandZ.

Interestingly, the profitability of individual products is among the most difficult data to glean from the financial information released by many of America's public companies. Businesses guard product profitability numbers like any other trade secret -- but with the data that is out there, the figures can be estimated. 24/7 Wall Street has done just that, and come up with this list of America's 7 most profitable products.


Methodology: Based on data provided by Capital IQ, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the S&P 500 companies that produce consumer products. We only considered corporations that have a single product save as the company's flagship brand, or where the product represented the largest single contributor of revenue. To account for the opaque nature of product profitability, 24/7 Wall St. only considered products of publicly traded companies that disclosed significant details about their operations. We excluded companies with an operating margin of less than 15%, as well as companies that did not break out revenue by division or product. In order to estimate product operating margin, in the cases when the product's margin or revenue was not provided, we used the company or division's operating margin as a proxy. If is was clear that the brand power of the product and high volume of sales allows the company to sell the product at a premium, we awarded the product a higher operating profit. Market share valued listed are worldwide, unless otherwise noted. We treated company products of the same type and brand as one. For example, for our purposes, Coca-Cola includes Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, and Cherry Coke.