The Most Admired list is the definitive report card on corporate reputations. Fortune started with about 1,400 companies: the Fortune 1,000—the 1,000 largest U.S. companies ranked by revenue and non-U.S. companies in Fortune’s Global 500 database with revenue of $10 billion or more. We then selected the 15 largest for each international industry and the 10 largest for each U.S. industry, surveying a total of 692 companies from 30 countries. To create the 57 industry lists, our survey partners at Hay Group asked executives, directors, and analysts to rate companies in their industry on nine criteria, from investment value to social responsibility. A company’s score must rank in the top half of its industry survey to be listed. Because of the distribution of responses, only the aggregate industry scores and ranks are published in Energy; Forest and Paper Products; Mining, Crude-Oil Production; Pipelines; Temporary Help; Trading Companies; and Wholesalers: Diversified. Because of an insufficient response rate, the results for companies in Health Care: Pharmacy and Other Services and Wholesalers: Food and Grocery are not reported.
To arrive at the top 50 Most Admired Companies overall, Hay Group asked the 3,920 respondents to select the 10 companies they admired most from a list made up of the companies that ranked in the top 25% in last year’s survey, plus those that finished in the top 20% of their industry. Anyone could vote for any company in any industry, which is why some results may seem anomalous. For example, Southwest Airlines ranks No. 9 on the overall Most Admired list, far ahead of No. 48 Delta. But within the airline category, based on industry experts’ responses, Delta leads the ranking, and Southwest is the seventh Most Admired company.
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Led by CEO Richard Anderson, the airline is growing internationally, courting business travelers, and booking record profits.