After a bumpy 2020, Ireland's economy is set to grow by at least 4.6% by the end of the year.

This is set to increase further to 5% by the end of 2022. That puts it ahead of the rest of the Eurozone and suggests that better days are coming. But what's driving the economy and what part do Irish FTSE 100 companies have to play?

What’s the FTSE 100?

The Financial Times Stock Exchange 100 comprises 100 companies. These are the London Stock Exchange's top-performing companies in terms of market capitalization. The index is seen as a good overview and gauge of the health of the UK business sector.

The index is also popular with traders and investors. For example, some will prefer to invest just in FTSE 100 companies. Others may like to trade and speculate on the value of the index overall, especially when compared with others. So popular is the FTSE 100 that traders and those interested in the market will watch FTSE live to attempt to forecast and identify opportunities for profits to be made. Watching the FTSE can also give investors insight into how the sterling may perform against other currencies like the dollar and euro.

Key Irish companies

The Financial Times Stock Exchange 100 comprises 100 companies

The Financial Times Stock Exchange 100 comprises 100 companies

CRH has been one of the most successful companies in Ireland since the 70s. Formed in Dublin, it now holds an international portfolio of construction and building materials businesses. They both manufacture and supply items to the construction industry and employ some 79,200 people. The company is listed on the FTSE 100, Euronext Dublin, the London Stock Exchange, and the New York Stock Exchange.

Another Dublin-based big name is Smurfit Kappa, one of Europe’s leading packaging companies. It’s also widely regarded as one of the biggest paper-based packaging manufacturers and suppliers in the world. Incorporated in Dublin in 2005, it now employs some 46,000 globally and is listed on not just FTSE but the London Stock Exchange as well.

No list would be complete without mentioning Medtronic. The company which builds and produces a variety of medical devices is the largest Ireland-based company on the New York Stock Exchange. They then acquired a surgical supplies group called Covidient, for $49.9 billion. The company now employs over 100,000 people and has a turnover exceeding $19 billion a year.

How did they do it?

The key to their success has mainly been finding a niche and knowing how to fill it. While Ryanair has had its fair share of controversy, they are famed for using this to their advantage. After all, any publicity is good publicity. Smurfit Kappa is successful due to a constantly evolving approach to packaging including innovative design and continual expansion. They recently won a number of awards in Brazil for their unique solutions. CRH on the other hand has pursued a solid corporate strategy for over 50 years. This has evolved with the times, and included expansion on multiple fronts, working on quality and product delivery, reshaping their portfolio, and a steady stream of acquisitions.

These companies will continue to help Ireland's economy recover, but it's also important to note the importance of foreign companies contribution. Google, Facebook, Accenture, Cisco, and Johnson Controls will all have a big impact on the future of Ireland.

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