When it comes to the businesses that garner the most respect, the list doesn’t change much year-to-year. In fact, the world’s most admired business has held that crown for 16 years, according to Fortune.
The magazine annually surveys business leaders to determine which companies are the most admired in the world. For this year’s list, 3,760 executives, directors and analysts were asked to select the 10 businesses they admire most out of a collection of well-regarded companies across 52 industries.
Following are the firms that made Fortune’s Most Admired Companies list, starting with No. 10 and ending with the 16-year reigning champion.
10. American Express
Known as Amex to many customers, American Express has a long reputation as a premier credit card issuer. The company started out in freight forwarding in 1850 and began offering charge cards more than 100 years later.
Today, many people view American Express as one of a kind. In fact, Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway holding company, told Bloomberg last year:
“You can’t create another American Express. I could create another shoe store. I could create another business publication. I could do all kinds of things with hundreds of billions of dollars. But I can’t put in the minds of people what is in their minds about American Express.”
Alphabet is a collection of companies. It includes the iconic Google, which started with a search engine and expanded to include services and websites such as Google Maps, YouTube, Chrome browser and the Android mobile operating system.
The firm isn’t just admired by business executives. Its brands are also favored by young consumers. YouTube and Google landed in the No. 1 and No. 2 spots as the most popular companies among Gen Z, according to a 2022 survey by Morning Consult Brand Intelligence.
In some quarters of the internet, Pfizer has been cast as the villain by those unhappy with its COVID-19 vaccination. However, that public sentiment hasn’t translated into business losses.
The pharmaceutical company saw its revenue double from 2020 to 2021, and its mRNA vaccine reportedly held 70% of the U.S. and European markets as of last summer, according to Kaiser Health News. Apparently, that sort of success is something business executives can’t help but admire.
7. Costco Wholesale
Costco isn’t just popular with business executives. Consumers flock to the company’s warehouse stores to get great deals on jumbo sized grocery items, discounted gift cards and cheap fuel.
Not everything at the store is a bargain, but the chain has a legion of devoted fans, something other executives likely envy.
6. Walt Disney
What’s not to love about the Walt Disney Co., the business that brought us Disneyland, the Happiest Place on Earth?
Theme parks are only part of this massive entertainment organization. Named for founder Walt Disney, the company produces acclaimed animated movies and family entertainment, and also operates resorts, retail stores, a cruise line and TV networks.
5. JPMorgan Chase
Financial powerhouse JPMorgan Chase was named the fifth most admired company in the world by the executives surveyed by Fortune, its highest ranking ever.
The company was founded in 1799, making it one of the oldest financial firms in the country. It now offers a range of services including personal, commercial and institutional banking, credit cards and wealth management.
4. Berkshire Hathaway
Berkshire Hathaway is a holding company whose subsidiaries include Geico Auto Insurance, Fruit of the Loom, Pampered Chef and Kraft Heinz. It also owns 20% of American Express, which might not be surprising given the earlier reported comments by Berkshire Hathaway CEO, Warren Buffett, on that firm.
The folksy Buffett, called the “Oracle of Omaha” for his investing acumen, has something of a cult following. His business success helps make Berkshire Hathaway one of the most admired companies in the world and lends credence to the idea that Buffett might be one of the greatest investors of all time.
Microsoft, the original tech startup, was founded in 1975. Its innovative operating system helped make the personal computer a household item.
While operating systems continue to be important to the business, Microsoft is known for many products and services, among them the popular Office Suite of productivity software, Bing search engine, Xbox video game consoles and Surface laptops.
Like Pfizer, Amazon has earned the scorn of some people. So much so that it was named the evilest company in the land in 2020 by website Slate.
The company was founded in 1995 by Jeff Bezos as an online bookstore whose goal was to offer “the earth’s biggest selection of books,” an inventory as deep and wide as the Amazon River. Today, the company sells nearly everything conceivable on Amazon.com and has expanded into publishing, streaming services, cloud storage, web services, grocery delivery and more.
It’s been criticized for everything from evading taxes to treating workers inhumanely, but it still garners admiration from business executives.
And here is the grand champion of the Fortune Most Admired Companies list. Apple has taken the top spot for the past 16 years — not bad for a company that was once on the verge of bankruptcy.
Apple was a groundbreaking startup with the Apple I personal computer in 1976 and the Macintosh PC in 1984. Then, it heard a death knell in 1997 before founder Steve Jobs returned to the CEO position that year and — with help from a competitor, Microsoft’s CEO Bill Gates — mounted a stunning comeback.
The company has gone on to introduce new computers, iPods, iPhones and iPads and completely change the way we live and work.