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.

Berkshire Hathaway
Berkshire Hathaway
Top 20 rank: 2
Rank in Insurance: Property and Casualty: 1
To see "admiration" in action, just look at Berkshire Hathaway's stock chart from last fall. As other financial shares were getting hammered -- some Berkshire investments among them -- investors bid up Berkshire's own stock by 27%.

Why? Wall Street believes that Berkshire and its acclaimed leader, Warren Buffett, possess a matchless ability to turn today's problems into tomorrow's profits. The key to this ability: "An absence of any regard for short-term results," says Don Graham, CEO of the Washington Post Co. (of which Berkshire owns 18%). Indeed, Berkshire has just launched a bond insurance company to compete with troubled MBIA and Ambac. It has also invested $800 million in subprime-battered Swiss Re.

Can Buffett, 77, continue making lemonade from lemons? There's no reason to think otherwise. Of greater concern: Who takes over once the legend is gone?  -Jon Birger
See how Berkshire Hathaway 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)