CAC 40 Index (Paris) Essay

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The CAC 40 is the foremost of several related French benchmark stock indices tracking the performance of stocks on Euronext Paris (formerly the Paris Bourse), and is one of the most-watched Euronext stock indices.

The index takes its name from the Cotation Assistée en Continu (CAC), the electronic trading system implemented on the Paris Bourse in the late 1980s and used for all listed stocks by 1989. CAC was based on the CATS (Computer Automated Trading System) developed for the Toronto Stock Exchange in the 1970s, and used a double auction algorithm to set prices and match orders, helping to automate and centralize aspects of the exchange over the decades that the open outcry system has gradually fallen out of favor. CAC has itself since been replaced by other systems, as computing and telecommunications have become more sophisticated.

The CAC 40 was established at the end of 1987, with an initial base value of 1000 points, equivalent to a market cap of 370,437,433,957.7 francs. As of December 2003, the basis of the index switched from total market cap to free float market cap, the basis used by most other major indices. At each quarterly review of the index (the third Friday of March, June,

September, and December), the Conseil Scientifique, an independent committee, evaluates the 100 stocks on Euronext Paris with the highest free float market capitalization over the previous 12 months. From that 100, 40 stocks are chosen—not the top 40, but the 40 that, combined, form the most useful benchmark and are suitable as underlying assets for derivatives. Market dominance is often a factor, such that the leading stock in a given industry may be chosen rather than the higher market cap second place stock in another industry.

The composition of the CAC 40 and related indices listed in this essay is current as of the start of 2009. The stocks of the CAC 40 are:

  • Accor, Europe’s foremost hotel group.
  • Air France, an airline company with a fleet of 622 aircraft.
  • Air Liquide, a producer of industrial and medical gas.
  • Alcatel-Lucent, a technology, communications, and services company.
  • Alstom, an infrastructure manufacturer for the energy and transportation industries.
  • ArcelorMittal, the world’s leading steelmaker.
  • Axa, Europe’s largest insurance group.
  • BNP Paribas, France’s largest banking group.
  • Bouygues, an industrial group with media and telecommunications concerns as well as its construction business.
  • Cap Gemini, an IT services company.
  • Carrefour, a distribution group running thousands of supermarkets and discount stores.
  • Crédit Agricole, a European banking group.
  • Danone, a food processing group, most of the products of which are dairy or beverages.
  • Dexia, a European bank and public finance company.
  • EADS, the leading European company (and second-largest in the world) in the aeronautics and aerospace industry.
  • EDF, France’s leading electric company.
  • Essilor, a manufacturer of corrective lenses and optical instruments.
  • France Télécom, the leading French telecommunications company.
  • GDF Suez, the leading natural gas supplier in Europe.
  • Lafarge, a producer of building materials.
  • Lagardère, a large media group.
  • L’Oreal, the worldwide leader in cosmetics.
  • LVMH, owner of luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Dom Perignon, Glenmorangie, and Christian Dior.
  • Michelin, a tire manufacturer.
  • Pernod Ricard, the second largest producer in the world of wines and spirits, including Glenlivet, Seagram’s, and Malibu rum.
  • Peugeot, the second-largest automobile manufacturer in Europe.
  • PPR, a luxury products group that owns brands such as Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent.
  • Renault, France’s second-largest automobile manufacturer.
  • Saint Gobain, a manufacturer of construction materials.
  • Sanofi-Aventis, a leading pharmaceutical group.
  • Schneider Electric, a manufacturer of electrical distribution equipment.
  • Société Générale, one of the “old banks” of France, and one of its largest retail banks.
  • STMicroelectronics, a semiconductor maker.
  • Suez Environnement, a provider of environmental services like waste treatment and water distribution.
  • Total, an oil and gas group.
  • Unibail-Rodamco, a commercial real estate group.
  • Vallourec, a steel tube manufacturer.
  • Veolia, an environmental management services company.
  • Vinci, a construction company.
  • Vivendi, a media and telecommunications group.

Launched at the end of 2002, the CAC Next 20 is composed of the 20 stocks ranked highest in market capitalization that are not listed in the CAC 40. The stocks of the CAC Next 20 are: ADP, Atos, Origin, Casino Guichard, CGG Veritas, CNP Assurances, Dassault Systemes, Eiffage, Eramet, Hermes, Klepierre, Nataxis, Nexans, NYSE Euronext, Publicis, Safran, SES, Sodexo, Technip, TF1, Thales.

The CAC Mid 100, created in 2005, lists the next 100 largest stocks, after the 40 and 20. The stocks of the CAC Mid 100 are: Alpes, Alten, Altran Technologies, ANF, April Group, Areva CI, Arkema, Bains Mer Monaco, Beneteau, Bic, Biomerieux, Boiron, Bollore, Bonduelle, Bongrain, Bourbon, Boursorama, Bureau Veritas, Camaieu, Canal +, Carbone Lorraine, Cegedim, Ciments Francais, Club Mediterranee, Delachaux, Derichebourg, EDF Energies Nouvelles, Esso, Euler Hermes, Eurazeo, Eurofins Scientific, Eutelsat Communications, Faiveley, Faurecia, Fimalac, Financiere Odet, Foncière des Régions, Foncière des Murs, Gecina, Gemalto, Générale de Santé, Groupe Eurotunnel, Groupe Steria, Guerbet, Guyenne Gascogne, Havas, Icade, Iliad, Imerys, Ingenico, Ipsen, Ipsos, JC Decaux SA, Kaufman et Broad, Korian, Laurent-Perrier, LDC, Legrand, Lisi, Manitou BF, Mauriel et Prom, Mercialys, Metropole TV, Neopost, Nexity, Nicox, Norbert Dentressangle, NRJ Group, Orpea, Pagesjaunes, Pierre Vacances, Plastic Omnium, Rallye, Rémy Cointreau, Rexel, Rhodia, Rubis, S.E.B., Saft, Scor SE, Séché Environnement, Séchilienne Sidec, Sequana, Silic, Sopra Group, Sperian Protection, Stallergenes, Stef TFE, Teleperformance, Theolia, Thomson, Ubisoft, L’union Financière de France Banque, Valeo, Vetoquinol, Vicat, Vilmorin & Cie, Virbac, Wendel, Zodiac.

The CAC Small 90 lists the next 90 stocks after the 40, 200, and 100. The stocks of the CAC Small 90 are: ABC Arbitrage, Affine, Akka Technologies, Alès Groupe, Assystem, Audika, Aurea, Avenir Telecom, Aviation Latecoere, Bastide Le Confort, Belvedere, Boizel Chanoine, Bull Regpt, Catering International Sces, Cegereal, Cegid Group, Chargeurs, Cnim, CS, Devoteam, Entrepose Contracting, Etam Developpement, Euro Disney, Europacorp, Exel Industries A, Fleury Michon, Foncier, Gameloft, Gascogne, Gaumont, GFI Informatique, Gifi, GL Events, Groupe Crit, Groupe Flo, Groupe Open, Groupe Partouche, Haulotte Group, Hi-Media, High Co, Hiolle Industries, IMS, Infogrames, Inter Parfums, Internationale de Plantations d’Heveas, Lacie S.A., Le Noble Age, Lectra, Linedata Services, Locindus, LVL Medical Groupe, Maisons France, Manutan International, Meetic, Metabolic Explorer, Metrologic Group, Montupet SA, Mr Bricolage, NextRadioTV, Parrot, Pharmagest International, PSB Industries, Radiall, Recylex S.A., Robertet, Rodriguez Group, Samse, Sartorius Stedim Biotech,, SII, SMTPC, Soitec, Spir Communication, Store Electronics, Sucriere de Pithiviers-Le-Vieil, Sword Group, Synergie, Tessi, Thermador Groupe, Tonnellerie Francois Freres, Touax, Toupargel Groupe, Transgene, Trigano, Viel et Compagne, VM Materiaux, Vranken-Pommery, Wavecom.

There are two additional relevant indices. The SBF 120 (Societe des Bourses Francaises) tracks the CAC 40 and 80 additional stocks from the CAC Next 20 and CAC Mid 100. The SBF 250 tracks the CAC 40, CAC Next 20, CAC Mid 100, and CAC Small 90.


  1. Benoit Mandelbrot and Richard L. Hudson, The Misbehavior of Markets (Basic Books, 2006);
  2. Robert B. Reich, Supercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life (Vintage Books, 2008).

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