Germany’s three biggest export companies are iconic automobile manufacturers. A trio of mammoth German firms competing in the diversified chemicals industry also rank among Deutschland’s top 10 product exporters.
To give some global trade perspective on recent company performance, the overall value of German exports increased by 3.9% from US$1.498 trillion in 2014 to $1.557 trillion during 2018. From 2017 to 2018, Germany’s exported goods appreciated by 7.4%.
In the analysis below, we compare 10 of Germany’s top exports-dependent companies based on asset values, sales and profitability as of December 2018. Also specified is the German city where each business has its headquarters.
Germany’s Top 10 Major Export Companies
Below are Germany’s biggest exports-related 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 December 2018 compared to May 2017.
- Volkswagen Group (car/truck maker): US$531.4 billion, up 15.8% from 2017
- Daimler (car/truck maker): $323.2 billion, up 26.1%
- BMW Group (car/truck maker): $241.3 billion, up 14.7%
- Siemens (industrial conglomerate): $163.4 billion, up 22.8%
- BASF (diversified chemicals): $98.9 billion, up 17.9%
- Bayer (diversified chemicals): $92.7 billion, up 2.9%
- Fresenius (medical equipment, supplies): $65.8 billion, up 34.3%
- Merck (pharmaceuticals): $43.3 billion, up 5.4%
- Linde (diversified chemicals): $40.8 billion, up 4.6%
- ThyssenKrupp Group (industrial conglomerate): $40.7 billion, up 10.3%
All 10 of these German businesses grew their asset values from 2017 to December 2018, led by medical equipment and supplies firm Fresenius via its 34.3% expansion. Asset growth was 26.1% for automotive industry competitor Daimler followed by a 22.8% gain for industrial conglomerate Siemens and a 17.9% improvement for diversified chemicals supplier BASF.
The most anemic year-over-year asset growth belongs to diversified chemicals provider Bayer (up 2.9%) then Linde (up 4.6%) and worldwide pharmaceuticals leader Merck (up 5.4%).
Sales is the life blood for most businesses, and 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 December 2018, posting modest gains.
- Volkswagen Group: US$272 billion, up 13.2% from 2017
- Daimler: $193.2 billion, up 14%
- BMW Group: $114.4 billion, up 9.8%
- Siemens: $94.5 billion, up 6.9%
- BASF: $75.1 billion, up 17.9%
- ThyssenKrupp Group: $49.6 billion, up 12.7%
- Bayer: $44.4 billion, down -14.3%
- Fresenius: $39.3 billion, up 22%
- Linde: $19.6 billion, up 4.8%
- Merck: $17.3 billion, up 4.2%
Medical industry leader Fresenius recorded the most robust increase in sales, up 22% from 2017. In second place among the gainers was diversified chemicals provider BASF via its 17.9% increase. The percentage sales increase for automaker Daimler was a 14% improvement trailed by a 13.2% sales uptick for major competitor Volkswagen Group.
Posting the sole year-over-year sales decline was diversified chemicals player Bayer thanks to its -14.3% setback.
Nine of Germany’s top 10 major export companies maintained profitability from 2017 to December 2018.
- Volkswagen Group: US$13.1 billion, up 129.8% from 2017
- Daimler: $11.8 billion, up 25.5%
- BMW Group: $10.2 billion, up 34.2%
- Bayer: $8.4 billion, up 68%
- Siemens: $7.1 billion, up 10.9%
- BASF: $7.1 billion, up 57.8%
- Merck: $2.9 billion, up 61.1%
- Fresenius: $2.1 billion, up 16.7%
- Linde: $1.8 billion, up 40.6%
- ThyssenKrupp Group: -$942 million, reversing a $362 million profit
The greatest percentage improvement in profitability belongs to triple-digit gainer Volkswagen Group.
Only one of Germany’s top major export companies endured a reversal in profitability from 2017 due to nearly a one billion-dollar loss as of December 2018.
Collectively, Germany’s top 10 major export companies have headquarters located in seven different cities.
- BASF: Ludwigshafen am Rhein
- Bayer: Leverkusen
- BMW Group: Munich
- Daimler: Stuttgart
- Fresenius: Bad Homburg
- Linde: Munich
- Merck: Darmstadt
- Siemens: Munich
- ThyssenKrupp Group: Essen
- Volkswagen Group: Wolfsburg
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 an industrial 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, Germany’s Top 10 Imports and Top German Trade Balances
Data.World Forbes Global 2000 2016 , Spreadsheet for 2016 Global 2000 rankings. Accessed on October 1, 2019
Forbes Global 2000 individual company profiles, Example of top German company compiled for this study: Volkswagen Group. Accessed on October 1, 2019
Forbes Global 2000 rankings for Germany, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on October 1, 2019
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on October 1, 2019
Wikipedia, Category: Companies of Germany. Accessed on October 1, 2019
Wikipedia, List of companies of Germany. Accessed on October 1, 2019