The chemical industry, which includes companies that produce industrial chemicals using fossil fuels and other minerals, is vital for a modern economy. Chemicals are used as raw materials in almost every major industry, from transport or automotive and electronics to foods, pharmaceuticals, and other consumer products.
The chemical industry in the United States is the largest in the world – accountable for about 15 percent of the world’s total chemical production. It provides more than $760 billion to the US GDP. In 2020, the total value of US chemical export exceeded $180 billion.
Five US states – Texas, Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and California have the highest concentration of chemical manufacturing facilities in the country. Texas and Louisiana account for 70 percent of America’s total petrochemicals production.
The sales of industrial chemicals can be divided into four broad categories –
- Basic chemicals include organic chemicals such as sulfuric acid, chlorine, sodium, and industrial gases, which are used to produce petrochemicals and plastic products.
- Specialty chemicals are chemical products that have unique functions and performances and are often produced for a targeted or specific customer base. They are also called performance chemicals.
- Consumer products include chemicals used in household products such as soap, detergents, toothpaste, cosmetics, and paints.
- Life sciences or pharmaceuticals include chemical substances used in medicines, diagnostic equipment, and pesticides.
According to a report published by American Chemistry Council in 2020, the annual production growth in the chemical industry will gradually decline in North America. The projected growth of chemical production in North America in 2025 is 1.5 percent as compared to 1.9 percent in 2023 and 1.7 percent in 2024.
A forecast by UNEP and ISC3 (International Sustainable Chemistry Collaborative) estimates the global market value of consumer chemicals will increase by 51 percent in 10 years from $541 billion in 2025 to $819 billion in 2035. The specialty chemical sector is also expected to grow at a similar rate.
Now that we have a basic understanding of the global chemical industry and its economic impact let’s find out about some of the world’s largest chemical companies. Apart from their business elements, we have tried to include the environmental track record of these large companies.
16. Formosa Plastics Corporation
Market Capitalization: $22.8 billion
Total Annual Sales: $27.7 billion
Formosa Plastics Corporation (FPC) is a fully-owned subsidiary and the core business of the Taiwanese conglomerate Formosa Plastics Group. FPC is a significant producer of polyvinyl chloride, also known as PVC, and other plastic products. The company also produces a variety of chemical and petrochemical products. It is the largest chemical company in Taiwan.
The company inaugurated its fully-owned US subsidiary in 1978. Headquartered in Livingston, New Jersey, Formosa Plastics Corporation USA itself, is a large entity with integrated production facilities in three US cities. It reported annual revenue of more than $5 billion.
Formosa Plastics Corporation’s total PVC resin capacity, including that of its US operations, is about 2.9 million metric tons per year. It is the second-highest in the world after Japan’s Shin-Etsu Chemical.
In 2018, FPC announced a $9.4 billion petrochemical manufacturing complex in St. James Parish, Louisiana. The entire complex is planned to accommodate ten facilities for producing PVC polymer and its precursors. However, the project has faced strong opposition from environmental groups and local communities over significant environmental and health concerns.
15. Ineos Group
Ineos chemical production facility in Wilhelmshaven, Germany | Image courtesy: Martina Nolte
Total revenue: $19 billion
Ineos Group is a large privately-held British chemical company involved in producing petrochemicals, plastics, and other chemical substances. The company was established by Sir Jim Ratcliffe, a British billionaire, in 1998. He has served as the chairman and majority owner of the group since then.
Ineos conduct its business operations in about 29 countries across the globe through a number of subsidiaries and joint ventures. It is currently the fourth largest chemical company in the world and the biggest private company in the United Kingdom.
The company manufactures a wide variety of petroleum products and specialty chemicals. It includes base chemicals such as ethylene, benzene, and propylene used to produce polymers and industrial solvents, chlorine derivatives and Chlor-Alkali, nitrile derivatives used mainly in the auto and construction industry, and styrene, which is vital for the production of polystyrene (the most commonly used plastic).
According to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, or SEPA, Ineos’ chemical and energy production facility in Grangemouth, Scotland, generated 3.2 million tonnes of CO2 in 2019 and is the biggest polluter in the country. The company aims to reduce greenhouse emissions by 10 percent (from 2019 levels) by 2025. It is planning to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
Apart from the chemical business, the company also owns a bunch of sports teams. Ineos is a one-third shareholder of the iconic formula one team Mercedes AMG Petronas.
14. International Flavors & Fragrances
Market Capitalization: $27 billion
Total Annual Sales: $11.7 billion
International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF) is a specialty chemicals and bioscience company that manufactures chemical adjuncts for the beverage and food industry. It also produces personal care solutions, perfumes, and pharmaceuticals.
The company was established in 1958 following a merger between two fragrance and spices companies – Polak & Schwarz and Van Ameringen-Haebler. Today, IFF conducts business operations in 45 different countries with major manufacturing facilities in the United States, Brazil, India, China, the Netherlands, and Indonesia. It is headquartered in New York City.
IFF is a leading supplier of water-soluble polymers (hypromellose), which are used in the pharmaceutical industry to create capsules. Other offerings include microcrystalline cellulose binders, an anti-caking agent widely used in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and food products.
In 2021, the company reported a total sales of $11.7 billion. About 41 percent of the sales went to large consumer products companies, and the remaining 59 percent to mid-sized and small companies in other sectors. Moreover, the US domestic market accounts for 28 percent of the company’s total sales, larger than any other country.
IFF is expected to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040. To achieve that, the company aims to reduce its emissions by more than 50 percent of its 2021 levels.
In 2021, CDP, a not-for-profit environmental impact assessment agency, listed IFF as a ‘triple-A‘ company for its excellent leadership and sustainability governance in addressing climate changes.
Market Capitalization: $28.6 billion
Total Annual Sales: $16.7 billion
DuPont (DuPont de Nemours, Inc.) was established in 2017 after a merger between Dow Chemical Company and E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company. The new entity was named DowDuPont, which became the largest chemical company in the world by sales. The merger was valued at $130 billion.
Shortly after the merger, DowDuPont was split into three separate companies, each managing a specific chemical business. Those three companies are –
- Corteva Agriscience – Agricultural chemicals company, which took over seed and crop protection business of DowDuPont.
- Dow Chemicals – A specialty chemical company that produces performance chemicals, plastics, and other specialty materials.
- DuPont – Produce a wide variety of chemical solutions and materials for different industries from automotive and construction to electronics and pharmaceuticals.
Other product lines include industrial adhesives, packaging (plastics) solutions, construction chemicals, medical device solutions, and electronic materials.
DuPont is also involved in the production of high-performance industrial fabrics and fibers. One such offering is Kevlar, a high-strength and heat-resistant synthetic fiber widely used in modern protection armor. It was developed by a Polish researcher Stephanie Kwolek working for DuPont in 1965.
In 2021, DuPont reported its net sales at $16.7 billion, a 16 percent increase from the previous year. Its EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization) was $4.2 billion. The company also reported a $5 billion reduction in long-term corporate debt.
DuPont is committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent from its current levels by 2030 and becoming carbon neutral by 2050.
The sign in front of its Houston headquarters
Market Capitalization: $29.4 billion
Total Annual Sales: $46.17 billion
LyondellBasell is one of the world’s largest and most valued chemical companies. It is headquartered in Texas, US, but incorporated in the Netherlands. The company was established in its current structure in 2007 after a merger between Basell Polyolefins and Lyondell Chemical Company.
The new entity, LyondellBasell, became a juggernaut in the chemical industry, but for a short period, The financial problems caused by the merger procedures led the new company to declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2009, just two years after the merger. However, the company was revived a year later.
Today, the company produces chemical solutions and materials for a wide range of industries and provides its services to more than a hundred countries globally. LyondellBasell is currently one of the major producers of polymers, including polyethylene and polypropylene.
Some of the other chemicals produced by the company are ethylene, ethylene oxide, propylene oxide, tertiary butyl alcohol, acetic acid, menthol, and derivative products. It also has a substantial portfolio of fuel ethers.
LyondellBasell attracted international media attention in 2020 when the company was criticized by the local authorities of Berre-l’Étang, a commune in southern France, for causing serious atmospheric damage in the region. The company has previously stated it would progressively work towards reducing its total GHG emissions by 30 percent from the 2020 levels by 2030.
LyondellBasell is a two-time recipient of the Responsible Care Company award presented by the American Chemistry Council.
11. LG Chem
Market Capitalization: $32 billion
Annual Sales: $35 billion
LG Chem is the largest chemical producer in Korea, headquartered in Seoul. It is a core subsidiary of the Korean conglomerate LG Corporation.
The company was established in 1947 as a cosmetics manufacturing company ‘Lucky Chemicals Co.’ It gradually expanded into synthetic substances, polymers, and PVC production. It was renamed LG Chem in 1995. By the 2000s, LG Chem entered the energy solutions business with the production of lithium batteries.
The company has made considerable advances in its lithium battery production and offering since then. For example, LG Chem developed the world’s first hexagonal battery for use in smartwatches. In 2021, LG Chem had the second largest market share of lithium-ion battery production in the world, ahead of Panasonic.
Apart from battery products, LG Chem operates in two other major business areas – basic chemicals and materials, which include plastics and organic compounds, and electronic materials, such as optical solutions (TFT-LCD panels).
LG Chem is the first Korean chemical company to announce carbon-neutral growth by 2050.
10. Dow Chemical Company
Market Capitalization: $39.8 billion
Total Sales in 2021: $55 billion
The Dow Chemical Company, or simply Dow, is the biggest of the three chemical companies which emerged from DowDuPont after its demerger in 2019.
Dow specializes in plastics and performance materials. About one-fourth of the company’s total sales come from performance plastics, such as polyethylene and polypropylene, predominantly used in the construction and auto industries.
Another important product category is performance chemicals or industry-specific chemicals, including nitroparaffins, polystyrene latex, and acrylic, which are used by almost every major industry, from pharmaceuticals to electronics. The company also produces hydrocarbons such as benzene, styrene, propylene, and ethylene. About 13 percent of Dow’s total sales are from this business line.
The company is gradually shifting its focus from low-margin commodity chemical business to high-margin specialty chemicals. In recent years, Dow has divested most of its non-core business (not involved in chemical production), which includes rail infrastructure assets across the United States.
In 2021, the company announced its plans to establish a $250 million specialty chemical manufacturing hub in Zhanjiang, China. The hub will initially focus on polyurethanes and alkoxylates production and have a net production capacity of 250,000 tons.
Market Capitalization: $41 billion
Annual Sales: €78.6 billion
Germany’s BASF is the largest chemical company in the world by total sales and the fourth-largest by market value. The company conducts business in over 190 nations through subsidiaries and joint ventures.
BASF produces a wide variety of products under different business segments – industrial chemicals, agrochemical, plastics, performance products, oil and gas, and customer-specific solutions. About 20 percent of the company’s total sales come from the transportation and automotive industry. It is followed by the consumer goods and agricultural sectors.
The company also specializes in plastic products, which include high-performance polymers, polyurethanes and foams (used in packaging and construction), and polyamides.
In recent years, BASF has made strides in the biotechnology sector. The company, under a fully-owned subsidiary, research and develop a variety of genetically modified foods. It includes Amflora, a specially modified starch potato that is used to produce high-quality yarn and paper. In 2017, BASF licensed CRISPR-Cas9 genome-editing tool to make further advancements in its agricultural solutions.
According to a 2021 report “Combined Toxic 100” published by Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), the BASF Group is the 5th largest polluter of the air and the 10th largest polluter of water in 2019.
In 2021, the company reported its greenhouse gas emissions at 20.2 million metric tons. BASF aims to reduce its CO2 emissions by 25% by 2030 and to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
8. Wanhua Chemical Group
Market Capitalization: $44 billion
Annual Sales: $22.51 billion
China’s Wanhua Chemical Group was established in 1998 as a chemical company primarily focused on polyurethane production. However, its roots can be traced back to 1978, when it was established as Yantai synthetic leather factory. It was the first synthetic leather (polyurethane) producer in China.
In 1995, the company was re-incorporated as Wanhua Group Corporation. Then in 2001, it became a direct subsidiary of Wanhua Industrial Group, a holding company created to invest in other businesses and improve the corporate management of the chemical company.
Wanhua Chemical is the world’s largest producer of methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI), an important raw material required for the production of polyurethane. Other large global producers of MDI are BASF, DOW, and Huntsman Corporation.
Key business units of Wanhua Chemical Group –
- Polyether polyols business – It includes R&D and production of polyether polyols (PU) that are used to produce rigid foam for different industries.
- Petrochemical business – The company produces a variety of petrochemical products, including ethylene, butanol, isobutene, acrylic acid, and high-density polyethylene.
- Advanced material business – Under this business unit, the company produces high-performance modified plastics, including polycarbonates, silicone polycarbonates, and other engineering plastics.
- Performance materials and chemical business – It is responsible for the research and production of specialty chemicals, plastics, and other materials.
In 2011, the group acquired a Hungary-based plastics producer, BorsodChem, for US$1.6 billion. Wanhua Chemical acquired Sweden-based Chematur Technologies in 2019 for $135 million to further expand its footprint in the European market.
Nutrien corporate office in Calgary, Alberta | Image Courtesy: Nutrien
Market Capitalization: $46 billion
Annual Sales: $27.7 billion
Nutrien is a Canadian agrochemical company that focuses on fertilizer production. It was established following a merger between Agrium and PotashCorp in 2018.
The company produces all three main macronutrients – Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium – which are used in crop fertilization. It also has a large network of retail stores that allow the company to provide agricultural solutions and services directly to customers. The network currently has over two thousand stores located throughout the Americas and Australia.
Nutrien is the world’s largest producer of potash with a total capacity of 20 million tonnes and the third-largest producer of nitrogen. The company also operates two large phosphorus mining and processing facilities in the United States.
In 2021, Nutrien reported its net sales at $27.7 billion, a 33 percent increase from the previous year. It generated a record EBITDA of $7.1 billion and an operating cash flow of $3.9 billion.
Since ammonia production generates considerably more CO2 than any other industrial chemical, Nutrien is focusing on the development of low-carbon and clean ammonia to reduce its net greenhouse gas emissions. By 2030, the company aims to reduce its GHG emissions by at least 30 percent per tonne of products produced from 2018 levels.
6. Shin- Etsu Chemical
Market Capitalization: $50 billion
Annual Sales: $13.5 billion
Shin-Etsu is the largest chemical producer in Japan by market capitalization. The company takes its name from the Shin’etsu region in Japan, which is comprised of two prefectures Nagano and Niigata. Shin-Etsu is currently headquartered in Tokyo and conducts operations in about 20 nations across the globe. It is ranked 381st on the Forbes Global 2000 list.
Shin-Etsu’s business operations can be grouped into three segments –
- Specialty chemicals – This segment includes products like silicone, polyvinyl alcohol, and sodium hydroxide that are used in several industries, from automotive and construction to electronics and aerospace.
- PVC chemicals – Shin-Etsu is the world’s largest producer of polyvinyl chloride, a type of synthetic polymer used extensively in piping systems, electric cables, construction, and the auto industry.
- Electronics and functional materials – This segment includes raw materials (rare earth minerals) and products that are used in the semiconductor industry, such as silicon metal, wafers, quartz glass, compound semiconductors, and Acetylenic chemicals.
Shintech Inc., a US subsidiary of Shin-Etsu, has the largest polyvinyl chloride (PVC) production capacity in the world. The company recently announced a $1.3 billion investment to increase its manufacturing capacity in Plaquemine, Louisiana.
In 2021, Shin-Etsu Group generated about 6,091 tonnes of CO2 emissions and produced 99,000 tonnes of wastage. The company aims to reduce its annual energy consumption by 1 percent. Shin-Etsu Chemicals targets to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions intensity to about 45 percent of the 1990 level by 2025.
For four consecutive years, from 2011 to 2014, Shin-Etsu Chemical was named one of the ‘Top 100 Global Innovators’ by Thomson Reuters.
A SINOPEC gas station in Hong Kong | Image Courtesy: Ralf Roletschek
Market Capitalization: $51 billion
Annual Sales: $40 billion
Sinopec, or China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation, is the biggest chemical producer in China and one of the largest by market capitalization. It is listed on Hong Kong and New York stock exchanges.
The company is involved in the exploration, refining, and supply of oil and gas across the globe. It also produces petrochemicals and a variety of other chemical products.
Over the years, SINOPEC has made strategic acquisitions of oil exploration and chemical manufacturing companies in Asia and Africa. It includes a $7.5 billion takeover of Addax Petroleum in 2009 and the acquisition of an oil and gas field off the coast of Angola for $1.52 billion in 2013. The company also bought a one-third stake in Egypt’s Apace Corp. that year.
SINOPEC has the largest network of gas stations in China. It also produces a wide variety of lubricants used in automotive and heavy industries. Alongside oil exploration and refining, the company is also engaged in natural gas production. In 2020, SINOPEC processed more than 44 billion m3 of natural gas.
As one of the world’s largest oil refiners, SINOPEC has a bad environmental and safety record. It has faced multiple warnings from different environmental agencies in China regarding waste management practices and excessive greenhouse emissions. In 2021, the company generated 172 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent, an increase for the second consecutive year. It plans to reach carbon neutrality by 2060.
4. Air Products and Chemicals
Air Products and Chemicals Europe regional headquarters in Surrey, England
Market Capitalization: $52 billion
Annual Sales: $10.3 billion
Air Products and Chemicals is US multinational company that deals in industrial chemicals and gases. It conducts business operations in over 50 nations, has more than 750 production facilities, and provides its services in 30 different industries. The company is headquartered in Allentown, Pennsylvania. It is the second-largest employer in that region.
Air Products and Chemicals provides a variety of industrial gases, specialty gases, performance chemicals, and intermediaries to clients in various sectors, including healthcare, automotive, and energy.
In 2021, Air Products reported total sales of $10.3 billion compared to $8.9 billion in 2020.
One of the company’s most notable clients is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA. Air Products and Chemicals is a long-term supplier of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen to NASA that are utilized as rocket fuel in space shuttles.
The company also provides NASA with other important industrial gases to support its engine testing program at different spaceflight and testing centers across the United States.
The company is expected to own and operate the world’s largest blue hydrogen production facility in Louisiana, USA, by 2026. The estimated cost of the entire project is around $4.5 billion. Once fully operational, the facility will capture about five million atmospheric CO2 per year.
In 2021, Air Products and Chemicals reported a 3.6 percent decrease in Co2 emissions intensity. Moreover, as much as 56 percent of the company’s revenue came from the sales of its sustainable products.
What is blue hydrogen?
Hydrogen has been perceived as the future of fuel. In an effort to decarbonize important economic sectors, different nations and corporates are progressively working toward replacing fossil fuels with hydrogen in the future.
The rationale behind this is when hydrogen is burned or used in a fuel cell with oxygen; it produces heat and electricity, with the only byproduct being water. It doesn’t generate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
While hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, it is very rarely found in its pure form on the earth. Instead, it usually exists in molecular forms. Unlike petroleum, hydrogen is an energy carrier and not an energy source, and thus it has to be obtained from somewhere.
Industrial hydrogen is produced mainly in two ways –
Steam Methane Reforming (SMR): In this process, hydrogen is acquired from splitting methane through an endothermic reaction. But the process also creates unwanted carbon dioxide. Hydrogen produced by this process is called ‘blue hydrogen‘ when this waste CO2 is captured and geologically stored.
On the other hand, it is called ‘grey hydrogen‘ when the CO2 is freely released into the environment.
Electrolysis: Hydrogen is also obtained from splitting water using electricity. Hydrogen produced from this process is called ‘green hydrogen.’
3. Air Liquide
Air Liquide industrial plant
Market Capitalization: $70 billion
Annual Sales: $24.5 billion (€23.3 billion)
Air Liquide S.A is the second-largest producer of industrial gases in the world, providing its services to the chemical, electronics, and medical sectors in more than 80 countries. The company was established in 1902 by Georges Claude, a French engineer who is known for his work on the industrial liquefaction of air.
Air Liquide has six lines of business (LOB) –
- Large Industries – This business line serves large companies in industries such as chemicals, steel, and refining and accounts for about 31 percent of the company’s total revenue from gases and services.
- Industrial Merchant – It supplies gases to mid-sized companies in diverse sectors from automotive and construction to food and beverage and energy. This segment is responsible for 43 percent (the largest) of Air Liquide’s total gas revenue.
- Healthcare – Under this segment, the company produces and supplies medical gases (oxygen, nitric oxide, and liquid nitrogen) to hospitals and individual customers. It is accountable for 17 percent of the company’s revenue.
- Electronics – Air Liquide supplies ultra-pure ‘carrier gases’ to the semiconductor industry. It accounts for the remaining 9 percent of the company’s revenue from gases.
- Engineering & Construction – The company also engages in the design and construction of chemical and gas plants for third parties across the globe.
- Global Market & Technologies – It is the least revenue-generating line of business for Air Liquide that focuses on the energy transition market, including hydrogen solutions and deep tech.
Air Liquide is known for its extensive research and development activities which focus on the development of industrial and medical gases, energy transitions, and digital innovation.
In 2018, the company inaugurated an air separation unit (ASU) in Secunda, South Africa. With a total of seventeen ASUs and a combined capacity of 42,000 tonnes per day, the Secunda plant is currently the largest oxygen production site in the world. In 2021, Air Liquide acquired the entire facility (the remaining sixteen ASU) to fulfill its long-term emission reduction goals.
Air Liquide is committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2050, aligning with universal efforts to combat global warming. The company is targeting a 33 percent decrease in its CO2 emissions by 2035.
2. Saudi Basic Industries Corporation
Market Capitalization: $80 billion
Annual Sales: $46 billion
Saudi Basic Industries Corporation, or SABIC, is a chemical company based in Saudi Arabia. About 70 percent of the company is currently owned by Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil producer, following a massive $69 billion deal in 2020.
SABIC is a leading producer of polymers that are largely used by the automotive, packaging, and construction industry. The majority of the company’s total output is from its petrochemical products segment. It also produces a wide variety of organic chemicals, industrial gases, hydrocarbons, and nitrogen-based agrochemical solutions.
SABIC has a significant presence in Europe. The company entered the European market in 2002 after acquiring the petrochemical business unit of a Dutch chemical company DSM for $2 billion. In 2007, the company purchased a chemical production facility in the UK from Huntsman Corporation.
The next year, in 2018, SABIC reported production of 7.3 million metric tonnes of petrochemical products from its Europe operations alone.
In 2021, the company reported annual revenue of SR 175 billion ($46 billion) and a net income of SR 23.1 billion ($6.1 billion).
1. Linde plc
Linde gas storage in Schiedam, Netherlands | Image Courtesy: Raimond Spekking
Market Capitalization: $146 billion
Annual Sales: $30.79 billion
Linde plc is the world’s largest industrial gas and chemical company by market capitalization. The company was initially founded in 1879 as Linde AG in Germany. It was re-established in its current structure only in 2018 after a merger with Praxair, a US-based industrial gas company. The new entity is incorporated in Ireland and headquartered in England.
The company is primarily engaged in the production and supply of various industrial and medical gases. In fact, Linde is the largest industrial gas company in the world by revenue. In the first quarter of 2022, about 17 percent of the company’s total sales came from medical gases, including nitrogen, helium, and argon, which are widely used in medical therapies and pharmaceuticals.
Linde is also involved in large-scale chemical infrastructure projects. It includes designing and constructing chemical plants, cryogenics plants, industrial furnaces, heaters, and other chemical plant components. The engineering business accounts for only a small portion of its sales.
In 2020, the company reported its total greenhouse gas footprint at 37.2 million metric tonnes of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent). It was about an 11.4 percent reduction from 2018 levels (42 million metric tonnes of CO2e). The company is targeting a 35 percent reduction in its total GHG emissions by 2035 and becoming climate neutral by 2050.
Linde plc is a core member of the Hydrogen Council, a group of companies from selective industries that invest in the development and advancement of hydrogen-powered vehicles. The company is placed 447th on the Fortune Global 500 list and 187th on the Fortune Global 2000 list.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which is the oldest chemical company in the world?
The Merck Group, established in 1668, is the oldest operating chemical and pharmaceutical company in the world. The company was founded by Friedrich Jacob Merck, a German pharmacist, and is still largely owned by the Merck family through a holding company.
Today, the group engages in R&D and production of a wide variety of specialty chemicals for the healthcare, bioscience, and electronics industry. It is one of the largest biomedical and pharmaceutical companies in the world.
Are chemical stocks a good investment?
We actually depend on chemicals to get on with our lives way more than we realize. They are in the smartphones we use to communicate, cars we drive, refrigerators we store food, and nearly every other consumer good.
In 2005, the total annual revenue of the global chemical industry was $2 trillion. It jumped to $3 trillion in just three years in 2008 and reached $4 trillion by 2013. After reaching its highest annual revenue of $4.1 trillion in 2014 and again in 2018, the global chemical industry has become stagnant in terms of revenue. In 2020, the annual revenue of the industry was reported at $3.8 trillion.
Despite the current slowdown, any industry of this size provides long-term opportunities for an experienced investor.