New entrant helps pharmaceuticals outshine peers in most profitable industry ranking

By Mario Tanev

The members of the SEE TOP 100 ranking from the pharmaceutical sector claimed the bragging rights in this year’s edition of the most profitable industry ranking by posting a return on revenue more than double that of the second-ranked glass products industry. Pharmaceuticals climbed to the top with a return on revenue of 15.2%, after ranking third a year earlier.

The pharmaceuticals sector received a boost from a new member of this year’s edition of the ranking – Croatia’s Pliva Hrvatska, part of Teva Group. The company claimed the 90th spot in the SEE TOP 100 ranking on revenue of 639 million euro. Pliva Hrvatska boosted its net profit to over 132 million euro in 2019 from 15.3 million euro in 2018, leaving the company with a return on revenue of 20.7% in 2019. A s much as 90% of the company’s total revenue comes from exports, mostly to the U.S. The rise in revenue reflects higher sales and the one-time effect of the commercialisation of part of the company’s development projects, the head of Pliva, Mihael Furjan, has told local media.

The industry was also represented by Slovenian giants Krka and Lek, which generated revenue of over 1 billion euro each. Krka boasted a net profit of nearly 250 million euro, or a return on revenue of 17.46%. Lek followed with a net profit of some 116 million euro and a more modest return on revenue, of 9.61%.

The glass industry claimed the second place thanks to a new member of the SEE TOP 100 ranking – BA Glass Bulgaria, which was the only glassmaker in the ranking. BA Glass Bulgaria benefited from increased investment after it was acquired by Portugal’s BA Vidro from Greek glassmaker Yioula in 2017. The new owner launched a major makeover at the company’s production bases in Sofia and Plovdiv. On the back of its increased capacity, BA Glass Bulgaria boosted its revenue nearly five times to 597 million euro in 2019 from 126 million euro in 2018, while its profit more than doubled to 40.9 million levs from 19.1 million levs in 2018. The company entered the Top 100 ranking at 98th place, but ranked 35th in terms of profit. Thus, with a return on revenue of 6.85%, BA Glass Bulgaria sent the glass industry in second place.

The bronze medal in this year’s edition of the most profitable industry ranking was claimed by the rubber and rubber products sector, which was mostly backed by Romania’s Continental Automotive Products. Despite registering a decrease in both profit and revenue, Continental Automotive Products remained the sector’s top performer with a return on revenue of 10.8%.

The other company to post a return on revenue above the industry average was Serbian tyre maker Tigar Tyres, which posted a return on revenue of 8.65% in 2019. The company was the largest representative of the rubber and rubber products industry by revenue, of 890 million euro, in 2019.

The industry was also represented by two other companies – Michelin Romania and Pirelli Tyres Romania, which generated a return on revenue of 3.20% and 2.33%, respectively.

Looking back at last year’s top three, only the pharmaceuticals industry enjoyed back-to-back profitable years. The most profitable industry in 2018 – transportation, dropped out of the top 10 chart this year, while the second-placed metals industry slid all the way down to the ninth place in 2019.

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The SEE industrial ranking pools together the revenue generated by all companies in SEE TOP 100 and ranks sectors by cumulative revenue. Year-on-year changes in the sectors’ total revenue have been calculated using the figures in euro. The comparative figures for 2018 are revised to allow a fair comparison. The sub-ranking of the industries with the highest return on revenue was calculated by dividing the cumulative net profit/loss within each industry by the cumulative revenue. We have based our rankings on an industry classification which treats filling station operators and gas trading/distribution companies as petroleum/natural gas companies, pharmacies and pharmaceutical distributors as wholesale/retail, and automotive and car parts manufacturers, and sellers as automobiles.

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