Germany has supplanted China as the world’s largest surplus economy as its current account surplus rose to €215.3 billion last year, equivalent to 7.4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). With lower oil and commodities prices putting downward pressure on import costs, Germany is likely to achieve another record surplus for 2015.
No doubt, the quality of German products as well as a highly sophisticated global sales network are major factors in creating high demand for German exports, but one cannot ignore the ways in which the adoption of the euro has also helped. Since joining the euro, Germany has seen its current account surplus increase to record highs, and the recent quantitative easing (QE) program of the European Central Bank (ECB) serving to weaken the euro will only help to boost exports even further. Below are a number of German exporters that will likely benefit.
The Weak Euro and German Exports
The ECB’s QE program launched in March has the bank buying €60 billion worth of assets—primarily government bonds—each month as the euro is lower than it was at this time last year. The weaker euro is helping to drive German exports.
Comprising 41.8% of German exports, motor vehicles (17.9%), machinery (14.5%) and chemical products (9.4%) are Germany’s primary exported goods. Here are five German companies that are poised to do better from a weaker euro.
The large auto manufacturer based out of Wolfsburg, with its subsidiaries, produces and sells motor vehicles in a number of international markets. However, the company also has a power engineering operation that manufactures heavy industrial machinery including turbo compressors, industrial turbines, and chemical reactor systems.
Having the majority of its cost base within the Eurozone and significant sales outside it, Volkswagen AG (VOW.DE) definitely benefits from a weaker euro. However, even a weak euro won't save the company from enormous costs, including $18 billion in fines from U.S. environmental regulators, resulting from its emissions-rigging scandal. Volkswagen's stock now sits nearly 35% below its value on September 18 when news about the scandal first came out. While the large auto manufacturer will face heavy costs and a damaged reputation, they at least have a bit of a competitive advantage from a weakened euro.
Another large auto manufacturer, headquartered in Stuttgart, through its subsidiaries, designs, manufactures, sells and distributes a range of passenger and off-road vehicles including cars, trucks and buses. The company also deals spare parts and accessories for its vehicles.
Like Volkswagen, Daimler’s costs are primarily within the Eurozone with significant amounts of sales worldwide, and will consequently benefit from a weaker euro. As of September 18, 2015, the Financial Times market forecast that polled 32 investment analysts believes that Daimler AG (DAIX.N) will outperform the market.
Operating within the diversified machinery industry, Siemens AG is an electronics and electrical power engineering company based out of Munich that operates worldwide. The company offers a range of products and services including solutions and maintenance for power generation and transmission systems, industrial turbines, energy management products and services, solutions for airport logistics, industrial software, and commercial finance.
Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser was quoted by Bloomberg as saying, “the weak euro boosts the sales of our products, absolutely no question.” As of September 18, 2015, the Financial Times market forecast that polled 30 investment analysts advises investors to hold their position in Siemens AG (SIEX.N). A previous forecast believed that the company would outperform the market.
BASF SE is a chemical company headquartered in Ludwigshafen am Rhein, but with global operations. The company offers a range of chemical- based products including solvents, glues, cosmetics, medicines, water treatment, battery materials, decorative paints, herbicides and insecticides.
BASF forecasts that for every one cent drop in the euro, earnings increase by €50 million. As of September 18, 2015, the Financial Times market forecast that polled 32 investment analysts believes that BASF (BASX.N) will outperform the market.
Based in Leverkusen, Bayer AG is a major drug manufacturer that designs and manufactures health care and agricultural products, and high-tech polymer materials to global markets. The company provides a range of products including prescription pharmaceuticals, contraceptives, nutritional supplements, animal grooming products, medical care products, crop protection products, green industry products, adhesive materials, and specialty chemicals.
The weak euro has already been a boon for Bayer, as the company raised 2015 forecasts back in April. The company was quoted as saying that profits will increase by a “high-teens” percentage with sales as high as €49 billion, €3 billion higher than the previous forecast. As of September 18, 2015, the Financial Times market forecast that polled 30 investment analysts believes that Bayer (BAYX.N) will outperform the market.
The Bottom Line
Many of Germany’s major exporters are reaping the benefits of a weaker euro, and with the ECB’s QE programs likely to continue as long as countries like Greece, in the periphery of the Eurozone, continue to struggle, Germany could see another record trade surplus. (See also: Economic Indicators for Germany.)