The publicly listed sporting goods companies performed better than the overall stock market in 2015 once again. Their combined stock market capitalization rose by 22.7 percent, or a little faster than the 19.3 percent gain recorded in 2014, with increases in all regions. Comparatively, the MSCI World Index of 1,663 large and mid-cap companies showed a 0.17 percent decline for the year, with a decrease of 16.68 percent in emerging markets. The new year did not start out well for the global stock market, but the sports stocks are likely to outperform it once more.

Our annual stock market capitalization chart, which we are running on page 3, is based on the total number of outstanding and fully diluted shares of each company, multiplied by the share price on Dec. 31, 2014 and on Dec. 30, 2015. For comparative purposes, the market capitalization of each company is calculated on the basis of local currencies. The figures are then translated into U.S. dollars at the year-end exchange rate and added up on a weighted average basis to determine the changes in global and regional values.

With an increase of 39.0 percent in the course of 2015, sporting goods companies based in Europe enjoyed the highest appreciation in the value of their equity, thanks in part to a 9 percent increase in the value of the dollar between January and December. They were followed by Asian companies, up by 21.6 percent, and those located in the Americas, up by 18.4 percent. In 2014, the European stocks on our chart had suffered an overall decline of 8.2 percent.

The regional trend was more or less in line with that of the stock market as a whole: In the U.S., the Standard & Poors 500 went up by only 0.62 percent and the Dow Jones Industrial Average actually went down. Conversely, the Euro Stoxx index gained 4.50 percentage points, and the Japanese Nikkei 9.07 points.

The Shanghai Composite Index advanced by 10.46 percent between the start and the end of 2015, despite its convulsions during the summer months, but it went down again in the last few days after a drop in industrial production and in the value of the renmimbi, with a negative effect on other stock exchanges around the world. This led to small drops in the share price of stocks like Nike, Under Armour or Skechers, but it didn't prevent Beijing Sanfo Outdoor Products, the Chinese outdoor retailer that went public on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange on Dec. 9 (see our previous issue), from appreciating further, reaching a share price of more than 100 renmimbi in the new year. It settled today at RMB 99.40, giving the company a market capitalization of just over RMB 6 billion (€840m-$910m).

Some of the biggest players in the sporting goods sector attracted investors the most. Leading the parade, Nike's stock market value jumped by almost 34 percent, accounting for 28 percent of the industry's total market capitalization. Recovering from its weak performance in 2014, the Adidas Group gained 53.2 percentage points in terms of euros, in spite of recent criticism of its management.

Surprisingly, Adidas overtook Under Armour, whose value on the New York Stock Exchange rose by only 20.4 percent in 2015. Adidas regained the fourth position in our chart after Nike, Luxottica (parent company of Oakley) and VF Corporation. Under Armour was followed by Jarden Corporation and Shimano.

The increases recorded by Nike and Adidas as well as other smaller stocks like Anta, Skechers, Li Ning and Alpargatas, resulted in a 33.5 percent increase for all the companies specializing in sports shoes. VF saw its stock market value dip by 17.4 percent, dragging down the whole sports apparel sector to a weighted average increase of 6.0 percent. With its value doubling in the run-up to its merger with Newell Rubbermaid, Jarden helped the equipment sector to rise by 29.2 percent, with solid gains also for Luxottica, Amer Sports, Shimano, Accell, Thule, Callaway and Fitbit.

On the other hand, sporting goods retailers suffered a decline of 3.5 percent on a weighted average basis. However, XXL, the fast-growing Norwegian-based retailer, enjoyed the highest stock market appreciation on our chart, rising by 267.1 percent. While Sports Direct lost 18.1 percent of its value, JD Sports Fashion raised its market capitalization by 104.9 percent. We are not including here Zalando, whose market capitalization went up by 51 percent to €1.24 billion on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, as it sells many other types of products besides those of the sports brands.

BasicNet doubled its value last year, ending up as one of the stars on the Italian Bourse, like Adidas on the German DAX index. The biggest declines were endured by Pacific Sunwear, Iconix, Go Pro, Zumiez, Deckers, Black Diamond, Skullcandy, Hibbett and Wolverine Worldwide.

Head has disappeared from our chart because it went private in the course of the year. Quiksilver's quotation was suspended. Besides Pacific Sunwear, two other action sports stocks, Billabong and Zumiez, lost ground.

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