Special Report

Companies With the Best (and Worst) Reputations

The Companies with the Worst Reputations

10. Comcast
> Reputation score: 60.99
> 2012 score: 59.10
> 1-yr. stock performance: 47.7%
> 12-month sales: $61.68 billion

In each of the last three years, Harris Interactive has ranked Comcast Corp. (NASDAQ: CMCSA) as one of its least reputable companies. A major issue for the company has been customer service. According to MSN, at least 20% rated Comcast’s customer service as “poor” — just one of three companies with so many dissatisfied customers. ACSI reported last year that both Comcast’s fixed line telephone and subscription television businesses were ranked among the lowest in their respective sectors for consumer satisfaction. But poor customer sentiment has not hurt the company’s bottom line. Shares are up over 47% over the last year, and the company was recently able to purchase the remainder of NBCUniversal for $16.7 billion.

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9. Wells Fargo
> Reputation score: 60.47
> 2012 score: 59.50
> 1-yr. stock performance: 16.1%
> 12-month sales: $78.87 billion

Wells Fargo & Co.’s (NYSE: WFC) reputation score rose only slightly compared to last year. Still, according to Harris Interactive, it became the first of the “big four” banks whose consumers indicated they have started to admire and trust again. In the last year, the company’s stock rose just 16%, versus 29.4% for JPMorgan, 33% for Citigroup, and more than 50% for Bank of America. The company has also been unable to separate itself from perceptions of other similarly-large banks among consumers. Alongside JPMorgan, Bank of America, and Citigroup, Wells Fargo was named one of the worst companies for customer service in 2012 by MSN and JZ Analytics.

8. J.P. Morgan
> Reputation score: 58.20
> 2012 score: 54.84
> 1-yr. stock performance: 29.4%
> 12-month sales: $93.65 billion

While the financial crisis didn’t hit the bank as hard as it did most of its peers, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) has had its share of controversies over the past year. The company lost approximately $5.8 billion when a trader commonly referred to as the London Whale took excessively large trading positions in complex financial instruments that ended up souring. In addition, there have been reports that the firm pushed its own mutual funds to clients over competitor funds even though they had cheaper and more-profitable options. J.P. Morgan’s brand value in 2012 declined 8% compared to 2011, according to Interbrand.

7. BP
> Reputation score: 56.55
> 2012 score: 53.50
> 1-yr. stock performance: -8.4%
> 12-month sales: $370.87 billion

In 2010, the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill damaged BP PLC’s (NYSE: BP) reputation so deeply that three years later — even after its CEO resigned in disgrace — it remains both highly visible and poorly rated. One reason for the company’s continued visibility, explained Harris Interactive’s Robert Fronk, is its own continuing ad campaign to highlight the remediation efforts it has made in the gulf region. “What they’re doing,” Fronk explained, “is saying ‘we’re owning up to it, and we want you to know that we didn’t just make a one-time payoff and we hope you forget about it, we’re trying to show you over a five-year window that we continue to take accountability for what happened.” Since 2011, BP has had one of the largest improvements in reputation of any company Harris has measured.

6. Citigroup
> Reputation score: 55.90
> 2012 score: 55.95
> 1-yr. stock performance: 33.6%
> 12-month sales: $59.32 billion

Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C) is still working to improve its image following its near destruction at the height of of the financial crisis, even as it continues to struggle. Brand Z noted that Citi’s brand value has declined 38% in the last year. Interbrand, on the other hand, said in its study that Citi’s brand value has declined just 12% year-over-year. Only 17.3% of respondents to the MSN survey rated Citigroup’s customer service as “excellent,” while 17% rated the customer service as “poor.” Citigroup has undergone some changes recently. The company’s board ousted CEO Vikram Pandit in October and replaced him with company veteran Michael Corbat. The company recently announced it was cutting 11,000 positions from the company.

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