Publicly traded pharmaceutical companies continue to make as many headlines for what deals they do, or how much they cut jobs, or R&D, as for any successes they may have in the clinic. Yet the Wall Street market surge kept going through the first half of this year, explaining why the companies continued accumulating value judging by their escalating market capitalization.
Following is a list of 10 pharmaceutical companies, ranked by market cap as of August 5 as furnished by the exchanges on which they trade their shares, or by other publicly available sources such as any of several free stock information websites. Figures of non-U.S. companies were converted to U.S. dollars from various currencies on August 5.
While all of the companies on this edition appeared the last time this list was updated in January 2014, and previously in July 2013, many of the companies have exchanged positions. A significant factor in the changes is currency—six of this summer’s top 10 are non-U.S.-based companies that benefited from the especially stronger U.K. pound, the stronger Euro, and the somewhat stronger Swiss Franc compared with the U.S. dollar. This explains some of the upward movement by non-U.S. companies—such as Novartis, which surpassed Pfizer to take the third spot; Bayer, and even AstraZeneca, which was #11 last time. The other three non-U.S. companies that didn’t move up in position still gained in market share.
Just falling short of a top-10 ranking by market cap this time round were are two U.S. pharmas. One is Eli Lilly ($68.86 billion), which like AstraZeneca has struggled in recent years with patent-cliff expirations of blockbusters and clinical setbacks—but unlike AZ, did not enjoy the benefit of the U.K. pound. The other is Bristol-Myers Squibb, which narrowly missed the top 10 with a market cap of $82.86 billion, sliding from December. Unlike that list, BMS was surpassed this time by AbbVie, whose market cap swelled in the weeks leading up to, and after, its announcement that it is acquiring Shire for roughly £32 billion (approximately $54 billion) in cash and stock.