Coca-Cola trucks decorated with holiday lights ride through Berlin.
Rank in Beverages: 1
(Previous rank: 3)
Overall score: 6.98
Why it's admiredWhile sales lagged in the U.S. last year, the food and beverage maker saw growth in emerging markets like China and India, as well as Europe, where favorable exchange rates have helped bring fizzier revenues. Coke has been a leader when it comes to environmental issues: It is aiming to be water neutral -- meaning every drop of water used by the company will be replenished -- by 2020, and CEO Muhtar Kent participated in climate change talks in Copenhagen in December. But Coke is perhaps most admired for one thing: the strength of its brand. As the company watched consumption patterns change in the U.S. -- where consumers are becoming more health- and cost-conscious -- it focused marketing on its take-home division. Kent has strong opinions when it comes to what it takes to preserving a corporate reputation: "There are two things in this regard a CEO can never delegate," he told Fortune. "The first is communicating your organization's vision for the future, and the second is ensuring that you are developing the right leaders to execute that vision. Everything about a company's reputation emanates from those two sources of influence." --C.T.
Should Coca-Cola be admired, or what?