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World's most admired companies

  • World's most admired companies

    Companies are the sums of their cultures and decisions: Money doesn't tell the whole story. A successful company needs much more than a profitable year to win the respect of its customers and keep employees happy.

    Stacker looked to Fortune's top 50 most admired companies (last updated January 2019) to get a better picture of which companies stand out amongst the rest. To make the list, Fortune partnered with global organizational consulting firm Korn Ferry to create, distribute, and analyze a survey of company reputations around the world. The study started with 1,500 companies: the 1,000 biggest companies in the U.S. ranked by revenue; and companies outside the U.S. with revenues exceeding $10 billion from Fortune's Global 500 database. From there, Fortune honed the list down to 680 companies in 30 countries with the highest sales in 52 different industries. More than 3,500 executives from those companies voted on the list, ranking businesses on nine factors including investment value to products. Companies had to score in the top half of their respective industries to make the final list.

    The 3,750 directors, executives, and securities analysts who took the industry surveys were then tasked with going through high-ranking companies from last year's surveys, including companies listed in the top 25% and companies that ranked in the top 20% of their respective industries.

    Here, Stacker explores Fortune’s list of the world's most admired companies, reviewing the details behind each company and likely reasons for inclusion on this list. Company histories and discussions about their legacy are included. Read on to find out the top dogs in the world of business.

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  • #50. Samsung Electronics (tie)

    Industry: Electronics

    Samsung started out in 1938 as a trading company that later invested profits into electronics development (among other industries). The company had a quick response to its “exploding battery” scandal in previous years: Production of the culprit, the Galaxy Note 7 smartphone, was permanently stopped in the name of consumer safety. Recently in 2018 Samsung created QLED (quantum dot light-emitting diode) TVs with ambient modes that specifically did not require an always-on camera, which is a privacy concern.

  • #50. Exxon Mobil (tie)

    Industry: Petroleum refining

    In the eyes of many, Exxon has come a long way from the 1989 oil spill and the ensuing lawsuits that made the company infamous. Created in 1882, Exxon made a recent investment in American drilling (as opposed to overseas) and a public commitment to renewable energy.

  • #49. Charles Schwab

    Industry: Securities and asset management

    Charles Schwab was founded in 1971, and in 2018 became more open about its desire to not let cost be a factor for people who wanted to invest with them. The company also saw massive success of their charity division.

  • #48. Mastercard

    Industry: Consumer credit card and related services

    Founded in 1966, Mastercard wrapped up its less-than-admirable projects in 2018 (including a lawsuit about fees and association with a scandal-ridden university). They earned back some goodwill by working with tokenization to enhance customer security and even venturing into bitcoin. It also deleted data from Indian customers to comply with government regulations.

  • #47. Nestlé

    Industry: Consumer food products

    Since 1866, Nestlé has often been associated in people's minds with chocolate candy. But they made the bold decision to sell off the majority of their sweets division in 2018 and move into health-based products. They also debuted a low-sugar version of one of their chocolate bars in the U.K. and Ireland using a new sugar-reducing technology. 


  • #46. UnitedHealth Group

    Industry: Health care—insurance and managed care

    Slow and steady growth was the name of the game for UnitedHealth, originally founded in 1977. Their health information and tech firm Optum is attributed as a major reason for that stability.

  • #45. Publix Super Markets

    Industry: Food and drug stores

    Named one of America's favorite grocery stores, Publix has been wooing the local market since 1930. They expanded into more specialty grocery stores, created jobs, and raised wages for employees. They even dropped support for a pro-NRA political candidate after protests at their stores.

  • #44. Facebook

    Industry: Internet services and retailing

    The youngest company on this list (founded in 2004), Facebook tweaked the news feed in 2018 to show more news from people than brands. Though the company has recently dealt with several reputational challenges: the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, privacy exceptions for ad buyers, and leadership fights.

  • #43. Caterpillar

    Industry: Construction and farm machinery

    Caterpillar, founded in 1925, had the foresight to debut in the Chinese market in 2018. The same year, tension in that market caused their stock to nosedive, and it didn't help that the construction company had a major disagreement with the IRS

  • #42. Visa

    Industry: Consumer credit card and related services

    Visa's place on this list could be slightly surprising to some: Stock sell-off earlier in the year was only the beginning of bad times for Visa. The company, founded in 1958, has faced data privacy troubles and a #MeToo scandal surrounding its spokesman Morgan Freeman. 

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