All praise is welcome, but it is particularly sweet when it comes from one's peers. That is the psychic trophy that the top companies in 26 industries can lug back to headquarters.
NEW YORK (Fortune) -- Rivals are often the first to take notice of failures and the least likely to praise successes. Which is why securing a top spot on the World's Most Admired list is a distinction worth celebrating. It means a company's toughest critics - their peers - consider them the best representatives of the industry.
While there are some longstanding titleholders, like Anheuser-Busch (BUD, Fortune 500) and DuPont (DD, Fortune 500), this year nine industries appointed new leaders. For instance, Textron (TXT, Fortune 500), which makes Cessna jets, cruised up six spots, outpacing airline giant Boeing in the Aerospace and Defense industry. Meanwhile, steel stalwart ArcelorMittal (MT) now dominates the Metals category after its Canadian counterpart, Alcan, slipped to seventh place. And Goodyear Tire & Rubber (GT, Fortune 500) gained the traction it needed to lead the Motor Vehicle Parts industry, leaving Toyota Industries behind at No. 2.
To come up with the class leaders, industry analysts and executives at competing firms were asked to rate companies with at least $10 billion in revenue in 2006 on nine attributes, from management quality to social responsibility. The scores are then averaged to come up with industry rankings. This year 345 companies in 26 industries and 25 countries participated.
Those scores are also used to compile the national rankings. British-based supermarket chain Tesco, and delivery outfit UPS (UPS, Fortune 500), hold the top spots in both their country and their industry this year. Though French cosmetics company L'Oréal ranks second in its industry, it outranks Carrefour and Total as the Most Admired Company in France. Over in Japan and Germany, carmakers Toyota (TM) and BMW were preferred over electronic giants Sony and Siemens. And port and mall operator Hutchison Whampoa is China's most admired.