For the fifth year in a row, Apple sits atop Fortune’s compilation of the world’s most admired companies. The ranking is the result of extensive surveys sent out to corporate executives, directors, and analysts who are asked to rank companies that reside in their own industry.
With 2011 now clearly in our rear view mirror, and yes, we might be biased, it’s hard not to see Apple as the company to be most admired. It set absolute record breaking sales figures across its entire product line, and despite losing Steve Jobs this past October, the company hasn’t missed a beat as its stock continues to skyrocket into the stratosphere. And with the iPad 3 just days away, soon to be followed by the iPhone 5 and, perhaps, an Apple HDTV, 2012 may very well be Apple’s biggest year to date.
To say it was another big year for Apple would be a gross understatement. With the passing of Steve Jobs, questions swirled around the companys future. But under new CEO Tim Cooks guidance, Apple continues to prosper. The companys annual revenues climbed to $108 billion, led by an 81% increase in iPhone sales — a jump that doesnt factor in the runaway success of the iPhone 4S — and a 334% spike in iPad sales, due in no small part to the revamped iPad 2. Increased sales across the board explain why shares soared 75% during the companys fiscal year to $495.
And checking in behind Apple was Google:
Google made several acquisitions, spending $12.5 billion for Motorola Mobility and $125 million for Zagat, among others. Consumer-facing services like Gmail, YouTube, and Google Reader saw significant updates, and the company finally unveiled its social network, Google+. Android also continued to dominate. According to Andy Rubin, SVP of mobile, 700,000 Android devices are now activated every day.
Companies rounding out the top 10 include Amazon, Coca Cola, IBM, FedEx, Berkshire Hathaway, Starbucks, Proctor and Gamble, and Southwest Airlines.
And in case you’re wondering how Fortune goes about compiling their listings, check out their methodology after the break.
The Most Admired list is the definitive report card on corporate reputations. Our survey partners at Hay Group started with approximately 1,400 companies: the Fortune 1,000 (the 1,000 largest U.S. companies ranked by revenue), non-U.S. companies in Fortune’sGlobal 500 database with revenue of $10 billion or more, and the top foreign companies operating in the U.S.
They then sorted the companies by industry and selected the 15 largest for each international industry and the 10 largest for each U.S. industry. A total of 698 companies from 32 countries were surveyed. (Due to an insufficient response rate, the results for 11 companies in the scientific, photographic, and control equipment industry were not published. In addition, due to the distribution of responses, only the aggregate scores and ranks for the 10 companies in the oil and gas equipment/services industry were published.) To create the 58 industry lists, Hay asked executives, directors, and analysts to rate companies in their own industry on nine criteria, from investment value to social responsibility. This year only the best are listed: A company’s score must rank in the top half of its industry survey.
To arrive at the top 50 Most Admired Companies overall, the Hay Group asked 3,855 executives, directors, and securities analysts who had responded to the industry surveys to select the 10 companies they admired most. They chose from a list made up of the companies that ranked in the top 25% in last year’s surveys, plus those that finished in the top 20% of their industry. Anyone could vote for any company in any industry. The difference in the voting rolls is why some results can seem anomalous—for example, although FedEx is one of the top 10 Most Admired Companies, it is second in the Delivery industry behind top-ranked UPS, which ranked 29th on the top 50 overall.