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Technology leaders land on "most admired" list

Five high-tech giants--Microsoft, Dell, Cisco, Intel and Lucent--made the top 10 list of Fortune's "most admired" companies, according to the magazine's annual survey.

Five high-tech giants--Microsoft, Dell, Cisco, Intel and Lucent--made the top 10 list of Fortune's "most admired" companies, according to the magazine's annual survey.

It is another sign of technology's growing influence on the economy. General Electric topped Fortune's list for the third year in a row, with the magazine observing that chief executive Jack Welch--who "refused to have a PC in his office for years"--got "e-commerce religion."

Microsoft's high ranking came despite its ongoing antitrust battle with regulators. Others in the top 10 list, such as Wal-Mart, received high marks for launching an Internet strategy.

A-list companies
1.   General Electric
2.   Microsoft
3.   Dell Computer
4.   Cisco Systems
5.   Wal-Mart
6.   Southwest Airlines
7.   Berkshire Hathaway
8.   Intel
9.   Home Depot
10. Lucent Technologies
Source: Fortune
But companies without a strong Internet focus made the list anyway. Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway, for example, "falls at the low end of any scale rating innovative uses of the Net," Fortune wrote.

Net-savvy companies still received high marks. One example: Charles Schwab bumped Merrill Lynch from the top spot among securities companies in the financial sector. Time Warner (Fortune's parent) replaced Disney as the No. 1 entertainment company. Disney stumbled on the Internet last year, and Time Warner was sold to America Online this year, pending regulatory approval.

The top 10 companies were, in order: GE, Microsoft, Dell, Cisco, Wal-Mart, Southwest Airlines, Berkshire Hathaway, Intel, Home Depot and Lucent.

According to Fortune, the list is based on an independent survey of 10,000 executives, directors and security analysts. They were asked to rate companies on such factors as innovativeness, quality of management, employee talent and long-term investment value. The winners were chosen from among the 1,000 largest American companies.