Special Report

The 10 Least Respected Companies in America

10. Foot Locker
> Favorability score: 62
> Familiarity score: 82
> Industry: Athletic wear

Foot Locker Inc. (NYSE: FL) has been restructuring since hitting bottom in 2008, when the stock price was as low as $5.49. The stock is now trading well above $30 per share, and the company has performed well financially. It is possible that the company was just lost in athletic footwear companies crowd and is finally finding its way out. Foot Locker’s familiarity scores are rising, according to CoreBrand. A recent ad campaign featuring NBA players James Harden and Stephen Curry has helped boost visibility online. The company has also been improving its reputation, according to CoreBrand. According to CoreBrand CEO Jim Gregory, the reason the company still makes the list is that as fast as the company’s favorability has grown, so has its familiarity. Gregory believes it unlikely the company would make it on the list of least respected brands list next year.

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9. Rite Aid
> Favorability score: 61
> Familiarity score: 85
> Industry: Drugstore

Rite Aid Corp. (NYSE: RAD) is the country’s third-largest drugstore chain by sales. In recent years, in addition to its larger traditional competitors, Rite Aid found formidable adversaries in even bigger chains Walmart and Target. The company was caught in an accounting fraud scandal in the late 1990s that lasted through the early 2000s and ended with former CEO Martin Grass receiving an eight-year prison sentence. The company is also in an industry that tends to have lower customer satisfaction, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index.

8. Capital One
> Favorability score: 61
> Familiarity score: 84
> Industry: Credit card

In July of last year, Capital One Financial Corp. (NYSE: COF) achieved the dubious distinction of being the first company to feel the wrath of the then-new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). It settled charges of misleading customers into paying for unnecessary services by paying a total of $210 million in reimbursements and fines. While the company has produced some very entertaining advertising to help promote its image, it contends with being part of a sector that suffers from essentially undifferentiated offerings, Gregory noted. The bank’s $9 billion acquisition of a portion ING’s U.S. business raised concerns about the creation of another “too big to fail” institution before it was approved in early 2012.

7. J.C. Penney
> Favorability score: 61
> Familiarity score: 94
> Industry: Retail

J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (NYSE: JCP) has done about as much as it can do to alienate its customers. When it hired highly regarded Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) executive Ron Johnson from Apple as its new CEO, the company had decided to overhaul its business model, notably abolishing its coupons program. Johnson’s strategy resulted in massive losses, leading to his ouster just under two years later and the return of company’s former CEO, Mike Ullman. The best measure of the company’s downfall is the shocking drop in its sales. Same-store sales were down 25% in 2012, and this trend of declining sales hasn’t let up since Ullman’s return.

6. Best Buy
> Favorability score: 58
> Familiarity score: 86
> Industry: Retail

Like other consumer electronics stores, Best Buy Co. Inc. (NYSE: BBY) continues to be battered by one retailer in particular: Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN). Widely referred to as Amazon’s Showroom, Best Buy is being undercut by the e-retailer’s lower prices while being burdened by the huge costs associated with running big stores. Making matters worse, former CEO Brian Dunn was embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal in 2012. Both Dunn and Chairman Richard Schulze were forced to resign after it became clear that both hid the affair from the board. A failed takeover bid by Schulze consumed management’s attention for several months at the end of last year.

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