Strong Company Reputations Aren’t Always What They Seem
Amazon.com is widely popular. In fact, according to a Harris Interactive survey of 14,000 individuals Amazon enjoys the best reputation among the general public of any company. But wait. Last year last year Apple topped Harris Interactive same survey and recently it has seen its stock plummet by more than 20 percent. Mark Hulbert, editor of the Hulbert Financial Digest argues that the most admired companies aren’t always the best investments.
March 13 2013 by ChiefExecutive.net
5. Bank of America
- Reputation score: 55.85
- 2012 score: 49.85
- 12-month sales: $75.16 billion
Like most financial services companies, Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC) is still reeling from the damage to its reputation caused by the bank’s role in the financial crisis. Yet the company has improved its reputation in the last year. In 2012, the financial services giant ranked third from the bottom, beating out only Goldman Sachs and AIG and receiving a “critical” reputational ranking. Fronk of Harris Interactive notes that Bank of America has improved in all six categories. He noted that since the company took a hard fall in reputation during the financial crisis, and that the company’s reputation has had a tailwind on its way back up.
4. American Airlines
- Reputation score: 53.85
- 2012 score: N/A
- 12-month sales: $24.86 billion
American Airlines was considered the most visible company of the past several months, according to Fronk, although it was not known for its sterling reputation. Along with much of the airline industry, American Airlines slashed its employees’ pay and eliminated many jobs. Only 37% of employees completing surveys on Glassdoor approve of CEO Thomas Horton’s performance. American Airline’s parent company, AMR, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy back in 2011. On Thursday, American Airlines and US Airways jointly announced an $11 billion merger, which the world’s largest airline and bring AMR out of bankruptcy.
- Reputation score: 52.51
- 2012 score: N/A
- 12-month sales: $28.50 billion
Although it has not been as much in the news as it was during the Bush administration, Halliburton Co. (NYSE: HAL) ranks as one of the nation’s most visible — and least reputable — companies for 2013. Halliburton is the world’s second largest oilfield services company, behind Schlumberger Ltd., and it has benefitted from increased spending by oil explorers and producers. However, Halliburton is a “leading provider of hydraulic fracturing services,” which remains extremely controversial. In a bold move to show fracking was safe, an employee drank the fluid used in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, at a conference in 2011.
2. Goldman Sachs
- Reputation score: 49.39
- 2012 score: 47.57
- 12-month sales: $34.16 billion
Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS) is one of just two companies to receive a reputation score below 50, which Harris refers to as “critical.” The company has been in the hot seat in the last several years as many argued that it played a large role in the financial crisis. In the last year, Goldman Sachs found itself mired in controversy once again when a former employee named Greg Smith wrote his resignation in The New York Times, arguing that company employees put their own interests before the interest of their clients. In Interbrand’s most recent brand rankings, Goldman’s value declined by 16% compared to the previous year. Fronk noted that the company is the least trusted in America, with 76% of Americans believing that Goldman would not act in their best interest.
- Reputation score: 48.57
- 2012 score: 46.18
- 12-month sales: $70.61 billion
Insurance giant American International Group Inc. (NYSE: AIG) is the least reputable company in the country for the fifth year in a row, scoring in the “critical” range in each of those five years. The company’s reputation was significantly damaged in the midst of the financial crisis when it was required to accept bailout money from the U.S. government. Recently, AIG has initiated a public relations campaign that explains it has returned all the money the federal government lent it during the financial crisis, and that the government has actually netted a profit. At the same time, the company weighed suing the federal government, arguing that high interest rates and other restrictions on the company were not in the shareholders’ interest and also unconstitutional. AIG ultimately decided not to sue.