Judged by a Jury of Their Peers
What does it take to earn the respect of your competitors? The leaders of these 28 industries have figured out the secret.
By Telis Demos

(FORTUNE Magazine) - The highest compliment is to be admired by one's peers. So rising to the top of one of the 28 industry groups in the World's Most Admired Companies rankings is good reason to break out the champagne.

This year ten companies became new industry leaders--among them Exxon Mobil (Research), which replaced BP in the petroleum-refining sector, and Nokia (Research), which ousted Cisco (Research) in the network-communications category. The other new leaders are Switzerland's Nestle (consumer food products); France's Areva (energy); Japan's Takenaka (engineering) and Toyota Industries (motor-vehicle parts); and AT&T Inc. (Research) (telecommunications), Bank of America (Research) (megabanks), DuPont (chemicals), and UPS (Research) (delivery), all based in the U.S.

Three hundred and fifty-one companies in 23 countries, all with revenue greater than $8 billion in 2004, were eligible for consideration. Respondents were asked to rate companies on nine attributes, such as financial soundness and social responsibility. The industries were then ranked by average attribute scores. Two industries were not included because they did not have sufficient response rates: general merchandisers and mining and crude oil.

In some industries, the companies that came out on top didn't fare as well as they did on the All-Star list, where voting was open across all industries. Continental Airlines, for example, ranked highest in the airlines sector but well behind Singapore Airlines in the All-Star voting. IBM led the computer industry but was ranked lower than Apple on the All-Star list.

Where Companies Rank in Their Industries

1. Aerospace and Defense

2. Airlines

3. Beverages

4. Chemicals

5. Computers

6. Consumer Food Products

7. Delivery

8. Electronics

9. Energy

10. Engineering, Construction

11. Entertainment

12. Food and Drug Stores

13. Forest and Paper Products

14. Household, Personal Prods.

15. Industrial, Farm Equipment

16. Insurance: Life and Health

17. Insurance: Property, Casualty

18. Megabanks


19. Metals

20. Motor Vehicle Parts

21. Motor Vehicles

22. Network Communications

23. Petroleum Refining

24. Pharmaceuticals

25. Semiconductors

26. Specialty Retailers

27. Telecommunications

28. Wholesalers: Health Care

•Not on last year's list. Changed name from Air France Group. Rank in electronics last year. Changed name from TPG. Changed name from Viacom, Dec. 29, 2005, after spinning off the new Viacom. Acquired Gillette (2004 rank: 5), Sept. 30, 2005. Called SCA in last year's survey. Changed name from ChevronTexaco. Changed name from Sanofi-Synthélabo after acquiring Aventis (2004 rank: 11). Rank in forest and paper products last year. Changed name from Boise Cascade. Changed name from SBC Communications after acquiring AT&T Corp. (2004 rank: 14), Nov. 18, 2005. Changed name from Sprint. Acquired MCI (2004 rank: 15), Jan. 6, 2006. Top of page