J&J often does well in pharma-image surveys, partly in thanks to its much-publicized credo and well-loved consumer brands. Other pharmas? Not so much, though in an industry-specific ranking, of Novartis and Roche tied for second behind J&J.
Johnson & Johnson led pharma in Fortune’s annual corporate poll of the most admired companies in the world for the fourth year in a row. It also came in at No. 13 among all companies ranked on the publication's list of top 50 All-Stars. Last year, Johnson & Johnson was first in pharma, and No. 15 among the All-Stars.
After the tied-for-second Swiss pharma giants, Merck and Amgen rounded out the top five.
Fortune polled thousands of corporate executives at 680 companies in 28 countries representing more than 50 industries. Executives rated companies within their own industries on nine criteria, including investment value, quality of management and products, social responsibility, and the ability to attract talent. The executives then also voted across categories by listing their top 10 most admired companies, which Fortune used to create its 50 All-Stars.
And it's a coveted distinction, Fortune assistant manager editor Nicholas Varchaver pointed out in a video introducing the 2017 rankings. “It’s hard to put a dollar and cents figure on reputation, but it makes it easier to do business, it helps you to raise money. It’s absolutely critical,” he said.
That’s especially true in the pharma industry lately, where reputation has become quite a hot-button topic driven by politics and pricing issues. While J&J is a pharma company, it’s also a consumer healthcare product maker with Band-Aids and Baby Shampoo, and those products help soften the slings pharma often faces. J&J frequently performs well in rankings; SyncForce’s Ranking the Brands, which tracks and weights company rankings from around the world, scored Johnson & Johnson at 159 points last year, far more than closest pharma competitors Novartis (102), Pfizer (80), Merck (75) and Roche (71). Still, there’s a long way to go for the whole category: Google got 442 points and Apple scored 592 points based on the number of top lists each was on in 2016.
In its own press release about the honor, J&J said it should come as no surprise to its 127,000 global employees, who are familiar with the company credo that "outlines Johnson & Johnson's mission to put people's needs front and center. And that includes not only the people who the company helps serve, but also those who make up its workforce.”
The top-ranked pharma companies by Fortune, with last year's category rank in parentheses:
1. Johnson & Johnson (1)
2.* Novartis (2)
2.* Roche Group (3)
4. Merck (5)
5. Amgen (7)
6. Pfizer (8)
7. Gilead Sciences (6)
8.* AbbVie (9)
8.* Eli Lilly (10)