After starting the year at €33.31, GfK’s shares outperformed the benchmark indices and achieved a new high of €38.42 at the beginning of February. While the SDAX continued to perform well, GfK shares went sideways, and in March they gave up a large part of the gains they had achieved in January. The share price performed very differently in the second and third quarter: After initially continuing its sideways movement, GfK’s share price rose significantly in June until it reached its highest point for the reporting period on July 17, at €41.48. In August, GfK’s share price fell significantly, as did all benchmark indices. While the SDAX and the DJ Euro Stoxx Media were able to make a partial recovery, the DAX and GfK’s share price fell further. Following the announcement of the adjustment of margin targets in December, the share price again lost significant ground and reached an annual low of €30.00 on December 22. GfK’s share price ended the year at €30.90, 7.2 percent below where it was at the start of the year. In this period, the DAX rose by 10 percent, and the SDAX rose by 25.5 percent.
Intensive Investor Relations activities
In 2015, the Investor Relations team once again focused its international capital market communications on the topic of the company’s transformation. One opportunity in this regard was the eighth Capital Market Day in Frankfurt am Main, where over 30 analysts and institutional investors from Germany, France, and the UK met with members of the Management Board. The event also provided for a small trade fair in which GfK presented its new digital services and products to visitors.
In 2015, the Investor Relations team, sometimes with the participation of Board members, had 312 (2014: 333) individual meetings with investors and analysts. The operational management team also intensified its interaction with investors. GfK conducted additional meetings at a total of six road shows (2014: 11), which took place in five countries, including Poland for the first time. Furthermore, GfK was represented at 13 capital market conferences in Germany, the UK, France, and the USA (2014: 13).
In 2015, GfK’s investor relations activities were recognized once again, winning the German Investor Relations Prize, which has been awarded since 2001 for “outstanding performance in the IR segment”. GfK was ranked top of all SDAX companies in the segment.
Declining market capitalization
The market capitalization of GfK based on 36,503,896 shares, a number unchanged in comparison with the previous year, amounted at year-end to approximately €1.13 billion (2013: €1.24 billion). After other SDAX companies achieved higher share price increases, GfK’s position in the market capitalization ranking fell from 10th (2014) to 24th place. The average volume of shares traded on German stock exchanges in 2015 was above the level of the previous year, at approximately 9,900 shares (2014: 8,000 shares). On strong days, however, the volume traded exceeded 74,000 shares.
As in the previous year, GfK shares were primarily traded outside German stock exchanges. The share traded on the Xetra platform in 2015 was 20 percent, which constitutes an increase in comparison with the previous year (13 percent). According to the data of brokers as well as Bloomberg, over 67 percent of trade in GfK’s shares was conducted outside stock exchanges in OTC trading. Since the Deutsche Börse ranking only takes into account the volumes of shares traded in Xetra, the position of GfK’s shares measured in terms of trading volumes on the SDAX at Deutsche Börse fell from 44th (2014) to 49th place.
In order to reduce the volatility of its shares, GfK has two designated sponsors. At the end of 2015, volatility was 27.2 percent, which is higher than the previous year’s value (23.2 percent). Since the fluctuation range of the SDAX reference value also rose from 11.8 percent in 2014 to 16.8 percent in 2015, the difference remains unchanged.
The coverage of GfK’s shares expanded slightly to 12 analysts (previous year: 11) and is clearly above the SDAX average of eight analysts (DIRK study). Our activities are designed to support international and global securities analyses and a widely diversified research offering. At year-end, eight analysts gave GfK shares a “buy” recommendation, three recommended “hold”, and one gave a “neutral” rating.
International shareholder structure
The share of freely tradable GfK shares as of year-end 2015 was 43.54 percent, which is slightly lower than that of the previous year. At this time, 0.03 percent of shares were in the ownership of the Management Board and Supervisory Board of GfK. In total, 34.71 percent of our shares were held by institutional investors and 8.8 percent by private investors. The main shareholder, GfK Verein, owns 56.46 percent (source: NASDAQ OMX).
Strong support for the company's road map
At the seventh Annual General Assembly of GfK SE on May 28, 2015, shareholders approved all the decisions proposed by the Supervisory Board and Management Board, with approval rates between 95.99 percent and 99.99 percent. A total of more than 210 shareholders and shareholder representatives (attendance: 88.5 percent) took part. Thus, our shareholders’ attendance slightly exceeded the previous year’s very high level to achieve a new high. Among other things, shareholders approved a payout of €0.65 per share by a large majority. The dividend amount corresponds to the value of the previous three years. A total of €23.7 million was distributed. The dividend payout ratio in relation to consolidated total income was 30 percent.