Germany’s three biggest export companies are iconic automobile manufacturers. Three other monolithic German firms compete in the diversified chemicals industry and also rank among Deutschland’s top 10 product exporters.
To give some contextual perspective on recent company performance, the overall value of German exports declined by -4.9% from US$1.410 trillion in 2012 to $1.341 trillion during 2016.
In the analysis below, we compare Germany’s top 10 export companies based on asset values, sales and profitability as of May 2017. Also specified is the German city where each business has its headquarters.
Top 10 Major Export Companies in Germany
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 2017 compared to May 2016.
- Volkswagen Group (car/truck maker): US$458.7 billion, up 10.6% from 2016
- Daimler (car/truck maker): $265.3 billion, up 8.6%
- BMW Group (car/truck maker): $210.3 billion, up 6.3%
- Siemens (industrial conglomerate): $133.1 billion, down -0.6%
- Bayer (diversified chemicals): $90.1 billion, up 6.5%
- BASF (diversified chemicals): $83.9 billion, up 4.7%
- Fresenius (medical equipment, supplies): $49 billion, up 4.5%
- Merck (pharmaceuticals): $41.1 billion, down -2.4%
- Linde (diversified chemicals): $39 billion, down -3.7%
- ThyssenKrupp Group (industrial conglomerate): $36.9 billion, down -4.8%
Six of these German exporters grew their asset values from 2016 to May 2017 led by venerable automaker Volkswagen Group which expanded its asset base by 10.6%.
Asset growth was 8.6% for another automotive industry competitor Daimler followed by 6.5% for diversified chemicals producer Bayer then 6.3% for luxury vehicle producer BMW Group.
Four other mammoth German businesses posted decreases in asset size, ranging from a -4.7% decline for steel and elevator conglomerate ThyssenKrupp Group to a -0.6% annual reduction for another industrial conglomerate Siemens.
Sales are the lifeblood of all business; this maxim applies particularly to firms that compete in international trade. Six of Germany’s largest export producers increased their overall year-over-year sales as of May 2017.
- Volkswagen Group: US$240.3 billion, down -2.4% from 2016
- Daimler: $169.5 billion, up 2.2%
- BMW Group: $104.2 billion, up 2%
- Siemens: $88.4 billion, up 3.4%
- Bayer: $51.8 billion, up 0.4%
- BASF: $63.7 billion, down -18.4%
- Fresenius: $32.2 billion, up 5.2%
- Merck: $16.6 billion, up 16.9%
- Linde: $18.7 billion, down -6%
- ThyssenKrupp Group: $44 billion, down -6.2%
Pharmaceuticals leader Merck recorded the most robust increase in sales, up 16.9% from 2016. In second place among the gainers was healthcare goods and services provider Fresenius via its 5.2% increase. The percentage sales increase for industrial conglomerate Siemens equalled 3.4%.
Sales declines ranged from -18.4% for diversified chemicals supplier BASF down to -2.4% for Volkswagen Group.
All of Germany’s top 10 major export companies managed to remain profitable from 2016 to May 2017.
- Daimler: US$9.4 billion, up 1.1% from 2016
- BMW Group: $7.6 billion, up 7%
- Siemens: $6.4 billion, down -1.5%
- Volkswagen Group: $5.7 billion, down -19.7%
- Bayer: $5 billion, up 11.1%
- BASF: $4.5 billion, up 2.3%
- Fresenius: $1.8 billion, up 20%
- Merck: $1.8 billion, up 50%
- Linde: $1.28 billion, up 0.5%
- ThyssenKrupp Group: $362 million, up 38.3%
The greatest percentage improvement in profitability belongs to pharmaceuticals titan Merck up 50%.
Only two of Germany’s top 10 major export companies endured setbacks in profitability from 2016 to May 2017: Volkswagen Group (down -19.7%) and, to a lesser degree, Siemens (down -1.5%).
Collectively, Germany’s top 10 major export companies have their headquarters sprinkled over 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 in 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.
Data.World Forbes Global 2000 2016, Spreadsheet for 2016 Global 2000 rankings. Accessed on January 20, 2018
Forbes 2017 Global 2000 individual company profiles, Example of top German company compiled for this study: Volkswagen Group. Accessed on January 20, 2018
Forbes 2017 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on January 20, 2018
Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on January 20, 2018
Wikipedia, Category: Companies of Germany. Accessed on January 20, 2018
Wikipedia, List of companies of Germany. Accessed on January 20, 2018