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Apple is again Fortune's most admired company

The iPhone maker surpassed such tech giants as Google, Amazon, and IBM for the No. 1 spot.

James Martin/CNET

Apple is the world's most admired company, at least in the eyes of executives polled by Fortune magazine.

For the sixth year in a row, Apple took home top honors for the title, this year scoring 8.24 on Fortune's ranking system, ahead of Google with a score of 8.01 and Amazon with 7.28.

Apple was deemed the most admired despite recent concerns over the company's performance.

Its stock has tanked 35 percent since September as investors and analysts fret that Apple's best days may be behind it. But the company still rates as a financial and technological powerhouse, according to Fortune's description:

Apple has had a rough time lately with its stock price in a free fall and the widely publicized failure of its Maps feature. However, it remains a financial juggernaut, posting $13 billion in net income last quarter, making it the most profitable company in the world during that period. The company has its fanatical customer base, and it still refuses to compete on price, making the iconic iPhone and iPad products that are still widely seen as prestige devices. Competition may be stiff, but so far it remains behind: In Q4 2012, the iPhone 5 was the world's best selling smartphone, followed in second place by the iPhone 4S.

In a related Fortune story on the company titled "It's lonely at the top for Apple," senior editor-at-large Adam Lashinsky did acknowledge worries over the stock price and post-Steve Jobs management. But Apple has gotten to the point where people expect miracles from the company, he wrote.

And it seems that when Apple doesn't deliver those miracles, investors and analysts give the company the thumbs down.

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Apple's corporate peers obviously see the current struggles as a short-term blip and continue to believe in the company's long-term potential. But one question raised by Fortune is whether the "most admired" title is a true sign of Apple's value.

"Perhaps the admiration of one's peers is a lagging indicator, akin more to a hall-of-fame vote than to a most-valuable-player award," Lashinsky wrote. "The company whose late founder aimed for it to be 'insanely great' remains plenty damn good. The years to come will determine if, for Apple, that's good enough."

Beyond Google and Amazon, other tech players among the top 50 included IBM, Microsoft, Samsung, Intel, eBay, Facebook, and Cisco Systems.

Fortune's list of the world's most admired companies is based on surveys from executives across 30 different countries.

The companies are ranked on nine separate criteria, including the quality of management, innovativeness, the quality of products or services, the ability to attract and retain talented people, social responsibility, and long-term investment value.