The 20 Most Admired Companies in the World

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It’s nice to be loved by your fans, but it’s even better to be respected by your peers. Each year, Fortune Magazine surveys thousands of business executives to see which companies they admire most.

In compiling its 2019 list of the world’s most admired companies, Fortune asked business leaders to consider hundreds of corporations across 52 industries. They rated their choices based on nine criteria — including investment value, social responsibility and management quality.

The survey included companies from 30 countries; U.S. corporations dominated the rankings.

Here are the 20 most admired companies in the world, starting with No. 20 and ending with the top-ranked company:

20. Nordstrom

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This luxury department store has built its reputation on service and style. Founded in 1901, Nordstrom is known for quality clothing, excellent customer service and one of the best return policies in the country.

19. Boeing

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Founded in 1916, Boeing has been a part of the aviation and aerospace industry almost from the start. Over the years, the company has remained competitive by making smart business moves at key times. When other companies were shifting to jumbo jets, Boeing made a decision to focus on smaller planes.

That strategy proved wise in light of a recent announcement that competitor Airbus will discontinue its A380 jumbo jet because of poor sales.

18. Singapore Airlines

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In addition to receiving recognition from Fortune, Singapore Airlines was in 2018 chosen by Aviation website Skytrax as the best airline in the world — for the fourth time. The Skytrax rankings are based on impressions from more than 20 million travelers.

17. Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson
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New parents will recognize Johnson & Johnson as one of the leading names in baby care products.

This behemoth of a company also offers much more, producing a long list of products that are household names, including Band-Aid, Tylenol and Motrin. It also develops medical devices and pharmaceutical products and is positioning itself to be at the forefront of robotic surgery technology.

16. American Express

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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. It began offering charge cards more than 100 years later. Initially intended as a convenience for travelers, American Express cards have evolved to offer perks and rewards for a variety of consumers.

15. Coca-Cola

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Many of the most admired companies on this list have long histories and proven track records. Coca-Cola is no exception.

The original Coca-Cola was introduced in 1886. Since then, the company has grown into an American icon. From Coke to Dasani to Fanta, its drinks can be found in stores and restaurants around the globe. In recent years, the Coca-Cola Co. branched off into new territory with a partnership to produce Fairlife Milk.

14. Salesforce

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Compared with some other companies on this list, 20-year-old Salesforce is in its infancy. The software company offers a robust platform for businesses to manage their customer relationships.

Its cloud-based solutions help companies oversee customer support, track sales and implement marketing strategies.

13. Nike

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Some questioned the wisdom of a Nike ad featuring Colin Kaepernick, a pro football quarterback who has become known for kneeling during the national anthem at games to protest police violence against black Americans. But that hasn’t stopped many from admiring this athletic gear manufacturer.

Nike produces tried-and-true footwear and clothing and is experimenting with innovative products like “self-lacing” shoes.

12. Costco Wholesale

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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.

11. Southwest Airlines

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Southwest Airlines is another company with what some would describe as an obsessive fan base.

Featuring open seating and offering companion passes that let you fly a friend for free, Southwest does things a little differently than other airlines. That willingness to be bold may be part of what makes the company admirable.

10. FedEx

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Delivery giant FedEx started out with 14 planes and the name Federal Express in 1973.

It has become a leader in shipping and delivering packages across the globe. What’s more, the company has made strategic moves to expand its service footprint, such as acquiring the printing chain Kinko’s in 2004, to give it a nationwide network of retail stores.

9. JPMorgan Chase

JP Morgan Chase sign
Roman Tiraspolsky / Shutterstock.com

Financial powerhouse JPMorgan Chase was named the ninth most admired company in the world by the executives surveyed by Fortune.

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. It recently made headlines as the first U.S. bank with plans to launch its own cryptocurrency.

8. Netflix

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Netflix revolutionized how people rent movies. It’s hard not to admire a company that took roughly 20 years to dominate its market. The company claims to have 139 million paid memberships in over 190 countries.

Netflix continues innovating, shifting from sending DVDs through the mail to streaming content online and offering a huge catalog of programming, including original content that gets attention from audiences and critics alike.

7. Alphabet

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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.

Despite privacy concerns about the company’s ever-expanding reach, executives named Alphabet the seventh most admired company in the world.

6. Microsoft

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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.

5. Starbucks

Starbucks
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Whether for offering red cups for the winter holidays or because its former CEO is running for president, Starbucks seems to be a common target of calls for boycotts.

But the attention may be indicative of the success achieved by the coffee chain. Not only can Starbucks coffee shops be found around the globe, its drink products and merchandise also are sold in retail and grocery stores.

4. Walt Disney

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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 (its studios include Pixar, Marvel Studios, Disney Animation, LucasFilm and Walt Disney Studios) and operates resorts, retail stores, a cruise line and TV networks, including the Disney Channel, ABC and ESPN.

3. Berkshire Hathaway

Warren Buffett
Photo by Flickr user fortunelivemedia

Berkshire Hathaway is a holding company whose subsidiaries include Geico Auto Insurance, Fruit of the Loom, Pampered Chef and Kraft Heinz. Its founder, chairman and CEO, Warren Buffett (pictured above), is the third richest man in the world and has been hailed as one of the greatest investors of all time.

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 the third most admired company in the world.

2. Amazon

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In 1995, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos created 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. Its innovative Amazon Prime service includes free two-day shipping, and Amazon has expanded into publishing, streaming services, cloud storage, web services, home services, grocery stores and delivery and more.

1. Apple

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Apple is the most admired company in the world, according to Fortune’s survey of business executives.

The company, a groundbreaking startup with the Apple I personal computer in 1976 and the Macintosh PC in 1984, nearly went bankrupt in 1997. 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.

Which of these famed companies do you admire most? Tell us in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

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