Germany provides more data and the IR focus is shifting
By Timmy Fredriksson
The rankings for the 20 largest companies by country showed Germany to be a powerhouse. It earned a well-deserved 2nd place, right after the top performing Finland, thanks to its consistently strong results across the board. Overall, the 62 ranked companies on the German list have been providing more sustainability and reporting information, while their IR sections need more attention.
German companies have taken a big step in the right direction when it comes to stakeholder needs and sustainability information. The average stakeholder fulfilment score for this section has gone up by an impressing 9%, landing at 51% overall. Seeing as sustainability information is of interest for both the capital market and jobseekers, German companies have made great strides towards being fully transparent.
Sustainability data and targets are here to stay
Sustainability data and associated goals are now a regular presence on corporate websites, with more effort being put into conveying numbers for environmental and social areas.
Although the scores have generally increased for the sustainability section, there is still room for improvement. Data on environmental topics such as waste, emissions, and energy usage have an average fulfilment rate of 22%, while social aspects such as equality, training, and health and safety scored 37%. These results are higher than the European average, but German companies shouldn’t settle. Making an effort to expand on these data sets will help show stakeholders when a company is taking responsibility for their actions and playing their part as a good corporate citizen.
As with all number-heavy sections of a corporate website, stakeholders have expressed a strong interest in historic data. Presenting previous data sets alongside targets and achievements will help stakeholders get a full understanding of a company’s current progress and where they are heading.
Out of the German companies, the top performer for sustainability is SAP with an excellent fulfilment of 94%.
The silver medal for reporting goes to Germany
When it comes to reporting information, German companies are doing great. So great, in fact, that Finland is the only country to beat their average score for this section.
All German companies provide the latest financial reports as a PDF and nearly all of them also include the associated report history. The same goes for presentation material related to the reports, where they scored an impressive 89%. So far, German companies are on the same wavelength with their stakeholders – 95% of the respondents from the Capital Market survey by Comprend found the latest financial report as a PDF to be highly important. For financial presentations, the score was 98%.
Next level for reporting: adaptation to the web
PDFs are great. They’re easily printable and work across multiple platforms, including mobile and tablets. However, they are not perfect. For those who wish to go past the basics, consider making the jump from PDF to HTML.
The annual report is one of the most polished and fine-tuned pieces of information a listed company can create. Presenting it in this way would lay a foundation for satisfying all stakeholders, as numbers and topics become searchable and can be viewed and analysed across multiple devices and screen sizes. An online annual report can also simplify upkeep, since making this information a permanent fixture of the website becomes easier when you’re working with HTML data.
Clocking it at a fulfilment of 93%, Hugo Boss is the best in reporting out of the Germans companies.
Germany’s IR focus has shifted
On average, scores for the IR section hovered around 34%. Similarly to reporting, Germany is second only to Finland. However, there’s a long way to go before reaching the Finnish average of 59%.
Overall, the German IR score was just 2% lower than last year, but going deeper into the numbers reveals bigger changes, both up and down.
German companies have become better at providing several key pieces of information, such as forward-looking statements. They’re also clearer on their risk management, market, and financial outlook and group strategy. In other words, the Germans are working towards assuring their stakeholders that they are equipped to meet the future. A wise decision, seeing as risk management, future outlook, and strategy are all regarded as important by more than 90% of the respondents from the Capital Market survey by Comprend.
Investments and divestments suffer from a lack of detail
In previous years, Germany has been one of the better countries at presenting investments and divestments. This year, a shift has happened – the fulfilment score for these areas dropped from 44% to 23%.
Capital market audiences frequently make use of this information to making assess a company’s strategic positioning over time. Consequently, this should be a priority concern and German companies should aim to get back on previous year’s levels of stakeholder fulfilment as quickly as possible.
The average fulfilment for all the Germans is 34%, but BASF stands out as best in class in Germany with a fulfilment of 79%.
German top performers
This year’s 3rd place goes last year’s silver medallist, Bayer. While their score has dropped slightly, the 2018 average of 67.7 points is nevertheless an impressive result. The runner-up, climbing from 8th place with an overall score of 71.7 points, is Daimler, thanks to their focused work on governance and sustainability. This year’s winner, still standing strong with a score of 76.9 points, is BASF. With an overall good performance, it’s their IR information that makes BASF stand out.
This year’s fastest climber is Continental, which increased their score from 49.6 to 63.8 points thanks to an increased focus on governance, sustainability and IR.
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See the full German results