Wal-Mart Walks Off with Top FORTUNE Ranking – Again

February 23, 2004 (PLANSPONSOR.com) -Despite allegations about its personnel practices, the nation's largest retailer, Wal-Mart, has been tapped for the second year in a row for the top spot in the latest list of FORTUNE's America's Most Admired Companies.

In addition, the 2004 list includes IBM – which rejoins it at the Number 10 spot after a 17-year absence. “Stock performance isn’t the only reason,” FORTUNE quotes from its accompanying magazine story. “CEO Sam Palmisano credits his predecessor Lou Gerstner, who led the company’s turnaround, as well as Big Blue’s refusal to ‘hunker down’ during the recession.”

IBM knocked Procter & Gamble off the list, which had ranked Number 10 on the 2003 list. Technology now accounts for three out of the top ten companies, according to a magazine news release.

Following Wal-Mart on the top list (in order) are

  • Berkshire   Hathaway
  • Southwest Airlines
  • General Electric
  • Dell
  • Microsoft
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Starbucks
  • FedEx
  • IBM.

FORTUNE also ranked companies by industry. Three firms roared up the rankings: Xerox zoomed from Number 9 to Number 3 in computers; McDonald’s super-sized from Number 7 to Number 2 in food services; Washington Mutual vaulted to first place in mortgage services.

The less fortunate, reports Harrington, include Freddie Mac and Tenet Healthcare, whose accounting troubles and federal investigations led to lower rankings; Oracle, which fell from Number 2 to Number 7 in the Computer Software category as it struggled to take over PeopleSoft; and Anadarko Petroleum, which plunged from Number 2 to Number 9 in the Mining-Crude Oil Production category due to slow growth.

To arrive at the industry category rankings, the Hay Group, a management-consulting firm, took the 10 largest companies by revenue in 64 industries, including foreign firms with large  US operations. Then it asked 10,000 executives, directors, and securities analysts to rate the companies in their own industries according to eight criteria, using a scale of one to 10. The Top 10 list is the result of another poll which asked respondents to select the t1- companies they admire most in any industry, choosing from a list of corporations that ranked in the top 25% overall last year, plus any that finished in the top 20% of their category.

Wal-Mart has been hit with a raft of lawsuits alleging that has mistreated certain employees including a number of pieces of litigation over the company’s overtime practices.