Apple Inc. Is the World's Most Admired Company

By Markets

Apple's stock has faced some tough times over the past 12 months, sliding 28%. But that didn't stop executives, directors, and analysts from rating the iMaker the world's most most admired brand in Fortune's survey.

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Competition for the top spot was tough. Alphabet came in a close second, and was ranked third.

Apple store. Image source: Apple.

The rankings
Fortune's annual survey ranks companies on nine attributes, including innovation, people management, use of corporate assets, social responsibility, quality of management financial soundness, long-term investment value, quality of products and services, and global competitiveness. To rate companies on this criterion, Fortune relies on Korn Ferry Hay Group to ask 4,000 executives, directors, and analysts to help sift through, rate, and rank the companies.

Apple took first place with an overall score of 8.6. Notably, the tech giant ranked first in every attribute.

Alphabet, parent company of Google, came in second place with a score of 8.2. The company's second-place ranking in the survey comes shortly after the tech company briefly surpassed Apple's market capitalization -- but Apple quickly regained the lead. Alphabet's stock price is up 32% in the trailing 12 months, and the company finished off the year on a particularly good note, with year-over-year revenue growth actually accelerating.

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E-commerce giant Amazon came in third, with a score of 7.3. Last year was particularly good for the company, with shares more than doubling during the year. But the stock has pulled back a bit during the market sell-off. During the trailing-12-months, Amazon stock is up about 41%. During 2015, CEO Jeff Bezos proved the company can report meaningful profits and consistent free cash flow. Operating income jumped from $178 million to $2.2 billion and free cash flow increased from $2 billion to $7.3 billion.

Value in Apple stock
This is the ninth consecutive time Apple has earned the top spot. The company's consistent ability to be recognized so positively by executives, directors, and analysts, is a reflection of the company's ability to grow its business, maintain a loyal customer base, and deliver value to shareholders.

iPhone. Image source: Apple.

Sure, Apple's stock is down during the past 12 months. But as the survey indicates, industry experts consider the tech giant to offer first-rate long-term investment value. Further, the company's business has actually grown considerably during this period. During the trailing 12 months, Apple's sales increased 18% and its EPS has soared 27%.

The survey's ranking of the company in comparison to the market's depressed valuation for the stock highlights the stark contrast in the low value the market is awarding the company and the admiration industry experts have for it. With the stock trading at just 10 times earnings, the market seems to believe the company will have trouble growing its earnings, going forward. But if Fortune's survey truly represents where Apple stands on these important attributes, is the stock mispriced at these levels?

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Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Daniel Sparks owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares),, and Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.