Financieele Dagblad: Five top Dutch companies make impressive come back

The top five stock exchang/ listed multinationals Shell, Philips, AkzoNobel, Unilever and Randstad, are back after several tough years, write Gert van der Have and Pim Kakebeeke in the Financieele Dagblad.

After Shell’s less than truthful account of the oil and gas reserves in 2004 and Unilever’s ill advised growth strategy in 2005, the big five are once again ready to do battle with what they and the analysts see as their main international competitors.
Taking into account the companies’ weak points as identified by the companies themselves or by analysts, the companies’ last quarter and full year figures suggest a return to strength.
Philips is more focused, Shell increased production, AkzoNobel has been buying, Unilever is showing turnover growth and Randstad has increased coverage.
World top
The five companies are each top in their field. Their combined international turnover almost equals the gdp produced by two thirds of the Dutch population. Together they employ 466,000 people. The five companies take up 40.5 percent of the AEX Index.
Not all AEX stocks and international competitors have published their full year figures. But if these five are at all representative of the other blue chips, the Dutch multinationals are doing very well indeed.

Shell and Unilever

Shell’s oil and gas production is no longer diminishing. The company is doing better than competitor BP. ExxonMobil is showing faster growth but has had to buy in production. Shell is breaking with the tradition of limping in last after these three.
Unilever is catching up with its competitors and even tops them in the turnover stakes. CEO Paul Polman is focused on growth and is running a tight ship. His managers have a limit of thirty days to solve a problem. At 5.1%, company’s autonomous revenue growth is beating competitor Proctor & Gamble.
Philips and AkzoNobel
Philips managed to diversify into medical systems without any marked adverse results. In the medical sector turnover growth for the fourth quarter Philips beat market leader GE by 9.9 percent.
Paint giant AkzoNobel used the money it earned from the sale of pharmaceutical company Organon in 2007 to finance the takeover of British competitor ICI and increased its market share in the US and fast growing Asian economies such as China. The company’s profit margins are high compared to those of the competition.
The acquisition of Vedior a few years ago bought Randstad more market share and it now primarily profits from a growth outside of the Netherlands which is beating Kelly Services.
A nice non top five example is ASML which has all but wiped out the competition. The company now controls 80% of the market in chip machines.

This is an unofficial translation

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