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Berkshire Hathaway ranks number one in reputation

By Chavon Sutton, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Berkshire Hathaway is still the most highly regarded company among Americans, according to a survey released Monday.

Warren Buffett's famed company edged out health care products manufacturer Johnson & Johnson (JNJ, Fortune 500) for the top spot in a ranking of corporate reputations, according to Harris Interactive's annual Reputation Quotient survey.

Tech giant Google (GOOG, Fortune 500), 3M Company (MMM, Fortune 500), and consumer-products maker SC Johnson rounded out the top five spots. And Ford Motor Company (F, Fortune 500) saw one of the biggest annual jumps in its reputation rating, despite a dismal year for automakers. Ford's rise was the second-largest in the study's 11-year history.

"This year, we see overall corporate governance, performance and leadership driving positive reputation perceptions," said Robert Fronk, senior vice president of Reputation Management at Harris Interactive.

Overall, the survey found that while Americans' opinion about corporations has improved in the wake of the 2008 economic crisis, the vast majority of people are still very skeptical about big business.

According to the survey, the percentage of Americans who labeled corporate reputations as "not good" or "terrible" stood at 81% in 2009, down from 88% in 2008 when the U.S. was knee deep in the crisis.

Bailed out banks and federal agencies, including Goldman Sachs (GS, Fortune 500), Citigroup, (C, Fortune 500) AIG (AIG, Fortune 500), and Fannie Mae, comprised 7 out of the 10 least reputable companies. Freddie Mac was rock bottom, with the lowest score recorded since 2005 when Enron held that spot.

Only 18% of those surveyed said corporations had a "good" reputation. Still, this was up from 12% in 2008 and marked the first positive move in four years.

The retail and automotive industries saw the biggest improvements in their reputation ratings. The technology sector remained the highest rated industry, while financial institutions and tobacco companies held on to the lowest ranks.

The annual Reputation Quotient surveyed more than 29,000 Americans between December 29, 2009 and February 15, 2010. To top of page

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