Between 2000 and 2020, the turnover of CAC40 companies has increased by 74%, in line with an increase in profits of 77%. Dividends, however, have soared: + 269% in 20 years, ten times the increase in the global workforce. The number of CAC40 employees in France has been reduced by 12% over the same period.
These figures confirm the criticism faced by CAC40 companies in recent years. While dividends are soaring and staff numbers are on the rise in other areas of the world, staff numbers are dwindling in France – despite a 28% increase in turnover in the country between 2000 and 2020.
Changes on the CAC 40 between 2000 and 2020
Twenty-six companies that were on the CAC40 on 1 January 2020 were on the index twenty years earlier: Accor, Air Liquide, Airbus (previously EADS), Axa, BNP Paribas, Bouygues, Capgemini, Carrefour, Danone, Kering (previously PPR), L’Oréal, Legrand, LVMH, Michelin, Orange (previously France Télécom), PSA, Renault, Saint-Gobain, Sanofi, Schneider Electric, Société générale, Sodexo, STMicro, Thales, Total and Vivendi.
Between 1 January 2020 and the date of this publication, three firms left the CAC40: Accor, Sodexo and TechnipFMC, replaced by Alstom, Teleperformance and Wordline.
Companies on the CAC40 in the year 2000, which have since left are: Valeo, Lafarge (merged with Holcim), Alcatel (acquired by Nokia), Dexia (taken over by BNP Paribas), Lagardère, Thomson-Technicolor, AGF (acquired by Allianz), Equant (acquired by Orange), Crédit Lyonnais (taken over by Crédit agricole), Aventis (acquired by Sanofi), Casino, TF1 (integrated into Bouygues) and Suez. Those to have entered the index since 2000 are: Veolia (split from Vivendi), Vinci, Crédit agricole, Dassault Systèmes, Pernod Ricard, ArcelorMittal, Publicis, EssilorLuxottica, Engie, Unibail, Safran, Atos and Hermès.
We compared the financial and social data of twenty-five out of the twenty-six companies concerned (we were unable to track down Legrand’s registration document for the year 2000). At least two of these companies have undergone significant changes over the last twenty years. The first is Kering, previously known as Pinault-Printemps-Redoute or PPR. It has since discarded the “Printemps” and “Redoute” to focus on luxury goods. It is one of the only companies whose turnover declined between 2000 and 2019 (although not its profits, its market capitalisation or its dividends). Staff numbers also fell 61% over the same period. The second is Vivendi, which at the time comprised two companies on the CAC40 – both of which have changed scope since: Vivendi focussed on media, as it is today, and Veolia, focussed on water and waste management. Given that the Vivendi of the year 2000 is virtually unrecognisable from the Vivendi we know today, we decided not to include the company in our comparative assessment.
Sanofi and LVMH are the two companies that have changed most radically over the last twenty years. Between 2000 et 2020, the pharmaceutical company’s turnover increased sixfold and staff numbers were multiplied by 3.5. Dividend payouts were 11.5 times more than what they were in 2000, even though profits had “only” tripled. This phenomenal development is not only due to Sanofi’s growing financialisation. The company also absorbed several of its competitors, including Aventis, which resulted in the company doubling its French workforce over this period.
In 2019, turnover for luxury brand LVMH was 4.5 times more than what it was in 2000 and profits ten times more. Dividends increased ninefold. The company tripled its total workforce over this period, and almost doubled (+83%) its French workforce.
In addition to the two previously mentioned companies, Vivendi and PPR, French staff numbers also plummeted at Orange (-42%) and Total (-35%) between 2000 and 2020. Of the companies analysed, there was only one, STMicro, that boasted an increase (+0.25%) in French staff numbers. Everywhere else numbers were down.
It would also be interesting to look at differences in executive compensation over this period. Unfortunately, CAC 40 companies were not required to disclose individualised figures (including stock awards) in 2000 as they are today. We only have figures for executive committees as a whole, and these figures only include base pay and variable compensation. Yet this still gives us a rough idea of how things have changed over twenty years. As previously mentioned, the current CEO of Carrefour makes the same amount as eleven members of the executive committee did in 2000 (excluding stock awards).
Fluctuating market values
In early 2000, the highest ranking company on the CAC40 in terms of market value was France Télécom (Orange), followed by Total, Carrefour, L’Oréal and Vivendi. Supermarket chain Casino, then in sixth position, has since left the index. Total overtook France Télécom some time in the year 2000 when the dot-com bubble burst. The year 2000 also stood out as a record year for the CAC 40, with 6944.77 points listed on 4 September.
On 1 January 2020, LVMH was the highest market capitalisation on the CAC 40, ahead of L’Oréal and Total. Sanofi, which has since become a big leaguer on the index, is just behind, followed by Airbus, Kering and Hermès. Between 2000 and 2020, luxury goods overtook retail.
It should also be noted that the market value of two state-owned utility companies which had been partially privatised, EDF and Gaz de France (now Engie), soared in the late 2000s. EDF was even briefly ahead of Total at some point. The company has since left the index and Engie has also seen its market value plunge.
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