Top 20 Most Admired Companies

To create the top 20, Fortune and its survey partners at Hay Group asked the experts -- in this case, more than 3,700 people from dozens of industries -- to select the 10 companies they admire most. This year's winners all have strong records of innovation, leadership, and financial strength -- and their employees know it.

Southwest Airlines
Southwest Airlines
Top 20 rank: 12
Rank in Airlines: 1
It was officially the second-worst year in aviation history. More than a quarter of all flights in the U.S. arrived late. Planes were packed. Airports were madhouses. Passengers were irate. So the fact that any airline is considered admirable says something.

Southwest, which dropped seven spots this year, to No. 12, shows it's possible to shine even in an otherwise dire industry. Besides posting its 35th consecutive year of profitability, it was the most punctual, lost the fewest bags, and had the least complaints compared with its peers. But its stock lagged, and there's fear that its quirky culture is starting to go stale.  -Barney Gimbel
See how Southwest Airlines rates in 8 key areas
Last updated March 03 2008: 2:10 PM ET

Apple

Berkshire Hathaway

General Electric

Google

Toyota Motor

Starbucks

FedEx

Procter & Gamble

Johnson & Johnson

Goldman Sachs

Target

Southwest Airlines

American Express

BMW

Costco

Microsoft

UPS

Cisco Systems

3M

Nordstrom
Most admired: Full list See how 317 top companies rate in 8 key areas. (more)
Most admired in your state California is home to the most corporations on this year's list. See the top-rated firms near you. (more)
Game: How admirable are you? Can you match each quote to the Most Admired company it refers to? See how admirably you score. (more)