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Dell beats Wal-Mart as 'Most Admired'
General Electric, Starbucks, Southwest also take top spots in Fortune magazine's annual survey.
February 22, 2005: 10:00 AM EST
The Top 5: The highest rankers on Fortune's list of "Most Admired Companies." Click for full report at
General Electric
Wal-Mart Stores
Southwest Airlines
Most admired main page

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Dell Inc. was No. 1 on Fortune magazine's annual list of the nation's most admired companies, displacing Wal-Mart, which has held the top spot for the past two years and fell to No. 4.

Rounding out the Top 5 are General Electric (Research), Starbucks (Research) and Southwest Airlines (Research).

"Corporate reputation is the product of alchemy -- a mixture of everything from the way a company nurtures homegrown talent to how it manages its balance sheet," Fortune writer Abrahm Lustgarten said.

"Throw in one part customer satisfaction, another part shareholder return, add a splash of community citizenship and you have a measure of that company's station in the hierarchy of American business."

To compile the list, Fortune and its survey partner asked executives, directors and securities analysts to rate companies with the largest revenues in 65 industries on innovation, employee talent, financial soundness, management, use of corporate assets, social responsibility, long-term investment and product quality. The most admired hall of fame.

There were a few surprises in some of the lists broken by industry, including Disney (Research) topping the entertainment sector despite its long-running management soap opera.

"Voters had high marks for the quality of Disney's products, and they may also have been looking at its stock chart for the year, which trounced those of rivals," said Lustgarten.

And even though Dell (Research) took top honors overall and IBM fell off the top 10 entirely, Big Blue edged ahead when computer firms ranked their own industry.

"Dell's peers see it as a brilliantly managed brand -- but no innovator in raw computing," Lustgarten said.

The list and related stories appear in the March 7 issue, available on newsstands Feb. 28 and at  Top of page


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