Special Report

Companies With the Best (and Worst) Reputations

5. Halliburton (NYSE: HAL)
> Reputation score:
> 2014 score: 57.3
> Industry: Energy
> CEO: David J. Lesar

In the mid-2000s, amid the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, defense contractor Halliburton was a frequent target of outrage from Americans. Many were concerned with the company’s profits on both wars as well as the potential conflict of interest arising from the company’s former CEO Dick Cheney serving as vice president of the United States at the time. A decade later, Halliburton remains one of the most disreputable American Companies. In this year’s Reputation Quotient survey, the company scored second-worst overall in emotional appeal. While it remains in the bottom five overall, Halliburton’s public image finally seems to be improving from that time. Halliburton’s reputation score rose from 52.5 when it was introduced to the Harris survey in 2013 to just under 60 in 2015.

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4. Monsanto (NYSE: MON)
> Reputation score:
> 2014 score: 57.3
> Industry: Agriculture
> CEO: Hugh Grant

When people think of agricultural chemical manufacturing, usually the only corporate name that comes to mind is industry giant Monsanto. Unfortunately, a great many of those people tend to have very negative thoughts about the controversial conglomerate. Monsanto manufactures pesticides and a variety of genetically modified food products and seeds, which tend to be viewed with skepticism. According to a Pew Research Center study, A majority of Americans said they believed GMO products to be unsafe. In the Harris survey, Monsanto rated in the bottom five for its products and services, and second-worst overall for its social responsibility.

3. Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH)
> Reputation score:
> 2014 score: N/A
> Industry: Telecommunication
> CEO: Charles W. Ergen

Cable and satellite television providers routinely receive among the worst customer satisfaction ratings and have among the nation’s worst reputations. Even in this poorly regarded industry, Englewood, Colorado-based Dish Network has the worst reputation. In a Zogby Analytics poll, more than one in five participants rated Dish’s customer satisfaction as poor, fifth-worst among companies included in the survey. While the company has reported increasing profits over the past few years, it still has a reputation for poor financial performance, according to the Harris poll. Those surveyed also expressed concerns over the company’s leadership. Dish scored third-worst overall in that measure. In February, founder Charlie Ergen returned to take over for outgoing CEO Joe Clayton.

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> Reputation score:
> 2014 score: 58.3
> Industry: Financial services
> CEO:

The massive more than $180 billion government bailout of insurance company AIG during the 2008 financial crisis may still be fresh in the minds of many Americans. The particularly bad media attention likely damaged AIG’s image even among non-customers. Perhaps as a result, AIG has nearly the worst reputation among U.S. companies. The company trails only Goldman Sachs, which AIG founder Hank Greenberg claimed was among the primary recipients of the bailout money when AIG paid all its bills. Greenberg, who opposed the bailout, led AIG shareholders in a civil suit against the government in late 2014. Shareholders claim they were cheated out of billions of dollars after the government’s takeover despite the fact the company has returned to profitability since the Great Recession. While AIG is not officially part of the litigation, Greenberg’s effort to collect more tax dollars has likely not helped AIG’s reputation among the general public. The final ruling is still pending.

1. Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS)
> Reputation score:
> 2014 score: 58.1
> Industry: Financial services
> CEO: Lloyd C. Blankfein

No U.S. company received a worse rating from Harris Poll than global investment firm Goldman Sachs. The company is one of the nation’s largest banks, although more than half of its staff works outside the country. And like other especially unpopular financial industry firms, Goldman Sachs’s reputation suffered considerably during the Great Recession. In 2010, Goldman Sachs paid a $550 million settlement to the SEC for misleading its mortgage customers — a record high SEC penalty. Goldman Sachs was still paying the price last year, long after the housing market collapsed. In the middle of 2014, the bank settled an FHFA lawsuit for roughly $1.2 billion, resolving complaints of irresponsible mortgage bond sales, again, during the financial crisis.

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