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The Basel-based pharmaceutical companies Roche and Novartis are among the 15 most profitable listed in companies in Europe, with Roche capturing the top spot. Both are also among the top performing companies in terms of sales.
According to the consultancy firm EY, Roche is the most profitable listed company in Europe. Novartis came in 12th place, and the Basel-based agrochemicals company Syngenta came in 98th. The two pharmaceuticals are also among the top 40 companies in terms of sales, with Roche (EUR 48.28 million) coming in 32nd place, followed by Novartis (EUR 44.68) two places lower. In terms of profits, 8 Swiss companies are among the top 100, and 7 with respect to sales.
Compared to their US counterparts, however, European countries lost some ground last year. The 300 highest-earning listed US companies increased their total sales by 1.2 per cent, while the largest European firms saw their sales decline by 1.6 per cent. US companies are also extending their lead in terms of profitability, says EY. The average margin of US companies rose 0.8 percentage points to 12.7 per cent, while European companies achieved a margin of just 9.8 per cent, an increase of only 0.2 percentage points.
“One of the reasons why European companies are less profitable on average is the sector breakdown. The list of the highest-earning US companies is headed up by market leaders in the telecommunications and IT sector, the pharmaceuticals and biotech industry, and the more profitable services sector, while in Europe more companies belong to the so-called old economy,” said Marcel Stadler, CEO of EY Switzerland.
Volkswagen had the highest sales in Europe with EUR 217.27. The two Swiss companies to make it among the top ten in terms of sales are Glencore, which came in fifth with EUR 138.22 million, and Nestlé, which came in ninth with EUR 82.36 million. In the US list, Walmart came in first place with USD 482.13 million.
In terms of profits, Apple came in first place in the US with USD 60.02 million. The pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson came in seventh with EUR 21.14 million and Gilead Sciences came in ninth with USD 17.63 million. Roche topped the European profit ranking with EUR 12.91 million, while Nestlé came in third with EUR 12.07 million.
The 21 Swiss companies in the list achieved combined sales of EUR 527 billion in 2016, the fifth-highest amount in Europe after Germany, France, the UK and the Netherlands. The pharmaceutical sector generated the highest profit margins both in the US (30.5 per cent) and in Europe (18.2 per cent).