Mark-ups and competition: a comparison of the profitability of listed South African industrial companies

Stellenbosch Working Paper Series No. WP02/2015
 
Publication date: 2015
 
Author(s):
[protected email address] (Department of Economics, University of Stellenbosch)
[protected email address] (Department of Economics, University of Stellenbosch)
[protected email address] (Department of Economics, University of Stellenbosch)
[protected email address] (Department of Economics, University of Stellenbosch)
 
Abstract:

This paper tests the well-established finding in the literature that SA firms are significantly more profitable and operate in a highly concentrated market, relative to that of their foreign counterparts. In particular we question the conclusions drawn by Aghion, Braun, and Fedderke (2008) who find that South African firms enjoy profitability margins more than double that in other countries for a sample from 1980 to 2004. We test this claim empirically by using survivorship bias corrected datasets of the top 25 South African industrial firms listed on the JSE (by market capitalisation) and those in the Dow Jones Industrial Average index. We compare (for this period) the mark-ups (as measured by Aghion et al. (2008)) as proxied for by the relative profitability (as measured by Return on Equity (ROE) and Return on Invested Capital (ROIC)). We also compare a set of commonly used ratios for SA firms relative to their US, UK and Brazilian counterparts for the period 1994{2013. Our results for both data sets do not confirm the claim that South African industrial companies have enjoyed sharply higher mark-ups as approximated by the relevant rates of profitability when compared with their international counterparts.

 
JEL Classification:

L250,L100

Keywords:

competitiveness, profitability margin, return on equity, return on assets, return on invested capital, mark-ups, profit margins, gross margins

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BER Weekly

13 September 2021
It was a data-heavy week in SA, with the 2021Q2 real GDP data indicating that the economy had better-than-expected recovery momentum in the first half of the year. While growth remained solid in the second quarter, both the survey and actual data released last week revealed the significant impact that the range of shocks at the start of the third quarter...

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