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Apple stays at top of 'most respected companies' list

February 13, 2011 |  6:15 pm

Apple Inc. gets not just investors' love -- but also their respect.

So we see from Barron's annual ranking of the "world's most respected companies" as voted by U.S. money managers.

The list, in the magazine's current issue, puts Apple at the top for the second year in a row.

Barron's asked 92 money managers nationwide to rank the world's 100 largest companies (by stock market capitalization) according to the level of respect the managers have for the firms.

Applelogo How is respect judged? The factor mentioned most often by the respondents was whether a company had a "sound business strategy." That was followed by "strong management," "ethical business practices" and "competitive edge."

Profitability doesn't seem terribly important in this ranking -- or so the managers said, anyway: Mentioned fifth-most-often as a respect factor was "revenue and profit growth."

Apple has had plenty of both. Riding its soaring financial results, the company's stock zoomed 53% last year and is up nearly 11% this year, to $356.85 as of Friday. Its stock market capitalization of $328 billion is second only to Exxon Mobil's $412 billion.

Apple is followed in this year most-respected ranking by No. 2 Amazon.com, No. 3 Berkshire Hathaway, No. 4 IBM Corp. and No. 5 McDonald’s Corp. Exxon Mobil ranks 11th.

The full list is here.

Coming in last on the list, at No. 100, was Russian energy titan Gazprom. The least-respected firm on last year's Barron's list -- Citigroup Inc. -- moved up four notches to 96th this year.

Just to show how quickly respect can be lost, last year's No. 2 company was Johnson & Johnson, which this year sank to 25th. J&J has been grappling over the last year with a rash of quality-control problems that have hit its drug, contact-lens and medical-device businesses.

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-- Tom Petruno

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