The Most Innovative Companies in the World

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5. Panasonic Corp.
> 2012 patent grants: 2,769
> Country: Japan
> Profits: $0.9 billion
> Sales: $104.6 billion
> 5-yr. stock price change: -76.1%
> Size: 224th largest in the world

Panasonic produces a range of consumer electronics, but is well-known for its televisions, cameras, and batteries. Other products it manufactures include avionics, tablets, and kitchen appliances.  At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, Panasonic unveiled a new, large-screen tablet PC. While the company remains innovative, it has been barely profitable. Shares are down more than 75% in the past five years.

4. Sony Corp.
> 2012 patent grants: 3,032
> Country: Japan
> Profits: $ -5.5 billion
> Sales: $78.9 billion
> 5-yr. stock price change: -79.5%
> Size: 477th largest in the world

Sony remains one of the most recognizable consumer electronics brands in the world, producing innovative products in television, audio, and gaming for years. In 2011, the company was awarded 2,286 patents. In 2012, that number increased by 33% to over 3,000, moving the company from seventh to fourth among the most innovative companies. According to IFI, this is actually an undercount because Sony files for patents under multiple divisions. Company shares are down nearly 80% in the past five years and roughly 40% in the past year alone. In the last reported fiscal year, the company lost more than $5.5 billion.

3. Canon
> 2012 patent grants: 3,174
> Country: Japan
> Profits: $3.2 billion
> Sales: $46.2 billion
> 5-yr. stock price change: -33.5%
> Size: 149th largest in the world

Canon has already slipped eight places in the Forbes 2000 list of the world’s largest companies, and it may be facing further headwinds in the future. While sales totaled $46.2 billion in 2011, that is expected to decline to $42.9 billion in 2012, and to $44.5 billion in 2013, according to a survey of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. Canon has struggled in recent years due to its longtime emphasis on low-to-no growth fields such as digital cameras and printers. Yet the company continues to churn out products in those fields, hoping to turn things around. At CES on Monday, the company introduced two imageCLASS printers targeted to the small and medium business markets as well as new PowerShot cameras.

2. Samsung Electronics
> 2012 patent grants: 5,081
> Country: South Korea
> Profits: $11.5 billion
> Sales: $142.4 billion
> 5-yr. stock price change: 190.5%
> Size: 26th largest in the world

While it is known primarily as a consumer electronics company, Samsung has a hand in nearly every consumer product category imaginable, from chemicals to semiconductors. Unlike most of the other companies on our list, Samsung has been performing well of late, partly due to the success of its mobile phone business. The company released 37 phones last year, including the extremely successful Galaxy S3. Shares of the company on the Korean Stock Exchange are up by more than 190% in the past five years, and by more than 60% in the past year. Awarded patents for the company are up by nearly 4% this year, but since 2005, total awarded patents have roughly doubled. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Samsung debuted a new flexible OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) screen, the first of its kind.

1. International Business Machines Corp.
> 2012 patent grants: 6,478
> Country: United States
> Profits: $15.9 billion
> Sales: $106.9 billion
> 5-yr. stock price change: 90.1%
> Size: 32nd largest in the world

For the 20th year in a row, IBM has produced more patents than any other company in the world. As IBM has gained patents, it has also sold many off. In March of 2012, IBM sold to Facebook 750 patents, allowing the social media company to bolster its intellectual property before its initial public offering. Back in 2010, the company sold about 1,000 patents to Google. Standard & Poor’s expects IBM to announce a full-year sales decline of 2.5% for 2012 partly because of a decline in hardware sales in the past four quarters. However, S&P expects sales to bounce back by 2.5% in 2013 due to continued growth in emerging markets.