For the stock markets, 2015 was a highly volatile year overall. This was also reflected by the development of our share price, which nevertheless rose by 14% during the course of 2015. Merck shares thus again outperformed the relevant comparative indices. The performance of Merck shares was nearly five percentage points better than that of the DAX®. In comparison with the respective industry indices for the pharmaceutical and chemical sectors, the development of our share price exceeded both by around nine percentage points.
Continuing the strong development of 2014 almost seamlessly, our shares reached their annual high of € 111.25 on April 10, 2015, which also represented an all-time high. This was followed by a period of significant general market weakness caused by renewed uncertainty among market participants with respect to the European debt crisis, weak economic data from China, and the imminent change in interest rates in the United States. During this phase, which lasted until October 2015, both the relevant comparative indices as well as Merck shares incurred noticeable share price corrections. Our shares hit their annual low of € 74.90 on October 14, 2015, then continually recovered to close nearly 20% higher at € 89.57 on December 30, 2015.
From the capital market perspective, the Merck news flow during the first half of the year reflected not only the continued strong business figures, but mainly also the latest developments leading to the completion of the Sigma-Aldrich acquisition, which closed on November 18, 2015. Important events in the second half of the year, which were received very positively by market participants, included the detailed and transparent report on the development of our pharmaceutical pipeline, which we gave during a conference call on October 1, 2015, as well as the successful Capital Market Day held on December 10, 2015. Thanks to its new format, the latter event gave investors and analysts the opportunity to get to know management representatives from all business sectors and to engage in close dialogue with them.
The average daily trading volume of our shares decreased by around 12% from approximately 639,000 in 2014 to 563,000 in 2015. In 2015, North America again accounted for the largest percentage of shares in free float. However, compared with the previous year, this figure decreased to around 37% (2014: 47%). By investor type, GARP (growth at reasonable price) and value investors continued to dominate. At the end of 2015, the top five investors held around 23% of the free float (end of 2014: 39%).
Share price development from January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2015 in %
|Share price high||€||111.25||80.40|
|Share price low||€||74.90||56.55|
|Year-end share price||€||89.57||78.42|
|Daily average number of Merck shares traded3||units||563,370||639,067|
|Market capitalization4 (at year-end)||€ million||38,943||34,095|
|Market value of authorized shares5 (at year-end)||€ million||11,576||10,135|