How we pick them

The Most Admired list is the definitive report card on corporate reputations. Our survey partners at Hay Group start with about 1,400 companies: the Fortune 1,000 (the 1,000 largest U.S. companies ranked by revenue), non-U.S. companies in Fortune's Global 500 database with revenue of $10 billion or more, and the top foreign companies operating in the U.S.

Hay Group sorts them by industry and selects the 15 largest for each international industry and the 10 largest for each U.S. industry. A total of 667 companies from 33 countries were surveyed. To create the 55 industry lists, Hay asks executives, directors, and analysts to rate companies in their own industry on nine criteria, from investment value to social responsibility. This year only the best are listed in the magazine: A company's score must rank in the top half of its industry survey. Online, all companies' results are displayed.

To arrive at the top 50 Most Admired Companies overall, the Hay Group asked 4,170 executives, directors, and securities analysts who responded to the industry surveys to select the 10 companies they admired most. They chose from a list made up of the companies that ranked in the top 25% in last year's surveys, plus those that finished in the top 20% of their industry. Anyone could vote for any company in any industry. The difference in the voting rolls is why some results can seem anomalous. For example, although Toyota is one of the top 10 Most Admired Companies, it is only third in the Motor Vehicle industry -- after BMW, which is ranked 22nd on the top 50 overall, yet is No. 1 among Motor Vehicles.

Due to the distribution of responses in Forest and Paper Products; Motor Vehicles; Oil and Gas Equipment, Services; and Wholesalers: Food and Grocery, only the aggregate industry scores and ranks are published for companies in these categories, not attribute ranks.

To contain costs this year, eight industries that have appeared in previous years were not surveyed. FORTUNE plans to survey these industries next year. They are: Automotive Retailing, Services; Building Materials, Glass; Mortgage Services; Packaging, Containers; Publishing: Newspapers & Magazines: Railroads; Real estate; Securities.

Hay Group, which has conducted the research for the World's Most Admired Companies list since 1997 and for America's Most Admired Companies since 2001, is a global management consulting firm. For information about Hay Group's services, go to haygroup.com.

If you have further questions about the Most Admired Companies, please e-mail lists@cnnmoney.com.

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The Most Admired list is the definitive report card on corporate reputations. Our survey partners at Hay Group start with about 1,400 companies... More