Technology companies dominate Fortune magazine's annual list of the World's Most Admired Companies, which will be published in the issue for 19 March 2012. Apple has taken first place for the fifth year in a row, followed by Google, Amazon.com, Coca-Cola and IBM. That means technology companies took four places in the top five.
Other technology companies in the Top 50 include Microsoft (17th), Samsung (34th), Intel (36th), eBay (4st), Cisco (42nd), AT&T (46th) and Oracle (49th). Neither HP nor Dell nor Yahoo made the cut, though Starbucks, McDonald's, and Wal-Mart did.
The results are based on a Fortune survey conducted by the Hay Group. It asked 3,855 executives, directors, and securities analysts to select the 10 companies they admired most from a long list. Anyone could vote for any company in any industry.
The criteria included financial soundness, competitiveness, innovation, people management and social responsibility. However, for those surveyed, recent business success appears to count for more than anything else. For example, there is no sign of a backlash against Apple's well-publicised problems with working conditions (and worker suicides) in its Chinese factories, operated by Foxconn. However, this was not due to ignorance, because Hon Hai, which trades as Foxconn, took the bottom place as the Least Admired company for Social Responsibility.
In the European results, car companies scored best. The Top 5 was made up of BMW, Nestle, Volkswagen, Siemens and Daimler. However, SAP (13th) and Nokia (30th) also made the Top 50
In the Asia/Pacific region, the Top 5 comprised Toyota, Canon, Samsung Electronics, Sony and Honda: four Japanese companies out of five. However, Huawei, China Mobile and LG Electronics made the top 10, and Lenovo (12th), TSMC (20th), Acer (37th), and Hon Hai (41st) also made the Top 50. (TSMC is Taiwan Semiconductor.)
Whether all this means very much is another matter. However, there's a strong element of sentiment in share prices, and appearing high on the list cannot be considered harmful. It must also help attract staff, who will generally prefer to work for a company that is widely admired.