To give some contextual perspective on recent company performance, the overall value of German exports declined by -10.2% from US$1.482 trillion in 2011 to $1.331 trillion during 2015.
In the analysis below, we compare Germany’s top 10 export companies based on asset values, sales and profitability as of May 2016. Also specified is the German city where each business has its headquarters.
Germany’s Top 10 Major Export Companies
Below are Germany’s biggest export companies organized by asset value. Shown within parentheses is the primary industry in which each company operates. Also shown is the change in asset value as of May 2016 compared to 2015.
- Volkswagen Group (car/truck maker): $414.6 billion, down -7.2%
- Daimler (car/truck maker): $235.9 billion, up 1.6%
- BMW Group (car/truck maker): $197.9 billion, up 3.8%
- Siemens (industrial conglomerate): $133.9 billion, down -4.4%
- Bayer (diversified chemicals): $84.6 billion, up 19.7%
- BASF (diversified chemicals): $80.1 billion, down -9.7%
- Fresenius (medical equipment, supplies): $46.9 billion, up 4.0%
- Merck (pharmaceuticals): $42.1 billion, up 46.8%
- Linde (diversified chemicals): $40.5 billion, down -10.3%
- ThyssenKrupp Group (industrial conglomerate): $38.7 billion, down -20.8%
Five of these German exporters grew their asset values from 2015 to May 2016 led by pharmaceuticals company Merck which expanded its asset base by a formidable 46.8%. Asset growth was 19.7% for diversified chemicals producer Bayer, 4% for medical suppliers maker Fresenius and 3.8% for BMW Group. Another automotive industry leader, Daimler increased its assets by 1.6%.
The five other large German businesses posted decreases in their asset size, ranging from a -20.8% decline for steel and elevator conglomerate ThyssenKrupp Group to a -4.4% reduction for another industrial conglomerate Siemens.
Sales is the life blood of all business, but particularly for firms that compete in international trade. Yet only three of Germany’s largest export companies increased their year-over-year sales as of May 2016, posting modest gains.
- Volkswagen Group: $246.2 billion, down -5.8%
- Daimler: $165.8 billion, up 5.8%
- BMW Group: $102.2 billion, up 1.2%
- Siemens: $85.5 billion, down -14.2%
- BASF: $78.1 billion, down -20.4%
- Bayer: $51.6 billion, down -3.1%
- ThyssenKrupp Group: $46.9 billion, down -9.1%
- Fresenius: $30.6 billion, up 13.5%
- Linde: $19.9 billion, down -10.0%
- Merck: $14.2 billion, down -3.1%
Healthcare goods and services provider Fresenius posted the fastest increase in sales, up 13.5%. The percentage sales increase for automotive manufacturer Daimler was 5.8%, while plus 1.2% was the improvement for competitor BMW Group.
Sales declines ranged from -3.1% for both Bayer and Merck to -20.4% for BASF, a diversified chemicals company.
In face of a slowing global economy, all of Germany’s top 10 major export companies managed to remain profitable.
- Daimler: $9.3 billion, up 2.6%
- Volkswagen Group: $7.1 billion, down -41.2%
- BMW Group: $7.1 billion, down -0.6%
- Siemens: $6.5 billion, up 7.7%
- Bayer: $4.5 billion, up 7.4%
- BASF: $4.4 billion, down -30.9%
- Fresenius: $1.5 billion, up 16.2%
- Linde: $1.3 billion, down -25.3%
- Merck: $1.2 billion, down -22.5%
- ThyssenKrupp Group: $261.7 million, up 113.1%
Five of Germany’s top 10 major export companies managed to boost their bottom-line profit in the latest May 2016 period. Fresenius increased its profits by 16.2% from 2015, the profitability gain for Siemens was 7.7%, profits improved by 7.4% for Bayer, while the black ink improved by 2.6% for Daimler.
ThyssenKrupp Group posted a 113.1% comeback, going from a -$2 billion loss in 2015 to a $261.7 million profit as of May 2016.
Collectively, Germany’s top 10 major export companies have their headquarters sprinkled over seven different cities.
- Volkswagen Group: Wolfsburg
- Daimler: Stuttgart
- BMW Group: Munich
- Siemens: Munich
- Bayer: Leverkusen
- BASF: Ludwigshafen am Rhein
- Fresenius: Bad Homburg
- Merck: Darmstadt
- Linde: Munich
- ThyssenKrupp Group: Essen
Note some of the above company offerings may include products other than the principal category shown within parenthesis under the Assets tab.
For example, Siemens is a conglomerate that distributes systems for medical diagnosis, power generation and transmission including wind turbines.
Similarly, Merck manufactures pharmaceutical, medical and chemical products for applications such as consumer electronics, lighting, coatings, printing plastics and cosmetics.
See also Germany’s Top 10 Exports, Highest Value German Export Products and Top German Trade Balances
Forbes 2016 Global 2000 individual company profiles, Example of top German company compiled for this study: Volkswagen Group. Accessed on July 19, 2016
Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on July 19, 2016
Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on July 19, 2016
Wikipedia, Category: Companies of Germany. Accessed on July 19, 2016
Wikipedia, List of companies of Germany. Accessed on July 19, 2016