Industry standouts: The companies most admired by the business world

The scoring system for Fortune’s Most Admired Companies survey favors companies whose peers recognize that they do many different things well. No company illustrates that point better than Apple, which topped our All-Stars list. We ask survey respondents to rate companies on nine performance criteria. This year, Apple earned scores in the top 10­—across all industries—on eight of those criteria, and it got the highest scores of any company in any industry in the talent-attraction category.

Walt Disney also cracked the top 10 in eight categories. That stellar performance helped The Mouse win the No. 1 ranking in the entertainment industry for the 17th consecutive year. Disney earned the very highest score across all industries for “quality of products and services,” finishing just ahead of Toyota (No. 1, motor vehicles industry) and Apple (No. 1, computers).

Another company garnering respect on multiple fronts: Microsoft (No. 1 in the computer software industry). It earned the highest scores across all industries in four criteria, including global business effectiveness and management quality. On the latter front, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella was chosen once again by his peers as the business world’s most underrated CEO.

Newcomers earned the No. 1 ranking this year in several of the 52 industry groups that the Most Admired Companies survey tracks. Raytheon finished first in aerospace and defense, an outcome that reflects both the ongoing woes at Boeing (last year’s No. 1) and the anticipated benefits of Raytheon’s merger with United Technologies, which is expected to wrap up in the first half of 2020. South Korea’s Samsung Electronics, the world’s 15th-largest company by revenue, made its first appearance in the top spot in the electronics industry.

In 2019, several big-box retailers demonstrated that they could go toe-to-toe with Amazon. One of those, consumer-electronics emporium Best Buy, took the No. 1 slot in the specialty retailers industry for the first time, capping a year in which its share price rose nearly 70% even as the company handed the reins to a new CEO, Corie Barry. Elsewhere in the retail aisles, toolmaker Stanley Black & Decker was the top-ranked company for the first time in the home equipment and furnishings industry.

Hilton Worldwide Holdings, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2019, earned its first No. 1 ranking in the hotels, casinos, and resorts industry. And Compass Group, a British multinational specializing in food service, earned its first top honors in the diversified outsourcing services industry.

Change is a constant in the Most Admired Companies rankings—but it isn’t the only constant. In addition to Apple and Disney, companies with durable winning streaks include Nestlé (15 consecutive years at No. 1 in the consumer food products industry) and <strong>Berkshire Hathaway</strong>, Warren Buffett’s famed holding company (No. 1 in health and life insurance for 22 years running). Berkshire also joins Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson, [hotlink]Coca-Cola[/hotlink], and Toyota in sharing a noteworthy distinction: Those five companies have appeared on our Top 50 All-Stars list every year since 1998.

A version of this article appears in the February 2020 issue of Fortune with the headline “Industry Standouts: As Ranked by Their Peers.”

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