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The Bulletin

World's 'most admired' companies: many are obvious, but not all

Posting in Finance

Another week, another ranking. Fortune magazine has just released its annual list of the "World's Most Admired Companies." There are no surprises here, and there shouldn't be. This is a popularity contest, and the results are pretty predictable: Apple is number one, Google number two, Amazon number three, Coca Cola number four, Starbucks number five.

The rest of the top 50 is made up of other beloved brands, from Nike (18) to Nestle (32), from FedEx (10) to Facebook (48). There are some placements that might seem surprising. For instance, Nike -- voted as the "Most Innovative Company in the World" by Fortune competitor Fast Company -- ranks pretty far below the top 10. Samsung, widely talked about as a threat to number one Apple because of its sleek Galaxy phones and tablets, comes in way down at 35.

Of course it's unmistakable that tech companies seem to dominate the list. Beyond those I named already, tech stalwarts IBM (6), eBay (47), Intel (42), and Cisco (49) also appear. But perennial leaders in retail, entertainment, financial services, automobiles, shipping, finance, and packaged goods also predictably make this ranking. I'll bet you can guess most of them, because they're so ubiquitous.

Most stunning are the companies that stand alone as the only types of businesses in their industries to make the list. These include Singapore Airlines (31); hotel chain Marriott International (36); and elegant, tech-savvy fashion behemoth Ralph Lauren (50). Yeah, they might appear in the lower half of the top 50, but they are clearly at the top of their games.

Image: Apple

— By on March 1, 2013, 3:30 AM PST

Reena Jana

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Reena Jana has written for the New York Times, Wired, Harvard Business Review online, Fast Company, Architectural Record, Artforum, Time Out New York, Harper's Bazaar, and GQ. Previously, she was the innovation department editor at BusinessWeek. She holds degrees from Columbia University and Barnard College. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure