Special Report

The World's 25 Least Admired Companies

Source: BrokenSphere / Wikimedia Commons

5. PG&E Corp.
> Industry Electric and gas utilities
> Country: United States

Pacific Gas and Electric Company, or PG&E, is a large investor-owned utilities company that provides power to most of California. The company, through its equipment, power lines, and facilities, has been connected with over a dozen wildfires in the region in recent years.

In 2019, the company declared bankruptcy as it faced an estimated $30 billion in liabilities after investigators determined PG&E equipment was responsible for a dozen wildfires in 2017 alone. The company was placed on probation in 2010 after one of its gas lines exploded.

Source: Patrick Smith / Getty Images

4. American Airlines Group
> Industry Airlines
> Country: United States

American Airlines is the least admired airline among 15 companies in the industry considered in the Fortune and Korn Ferry survey, and one of the least admired companies in the world. The company denied rumors of a forthcoming bankruptcy filing in May 2020 after demand for air travel tanked due to COVID-19. It has not yet done so, but the company did recently post a record $8.9 billion annual lost in 2020.

Source: agafapaperiapunta / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

3. Deutsche Bank
> Industry Banking
> Country: Germany

Deutsche Bank is a large multinational investment bank headquartered in Germany. The company has been at the center of a number of major scandals, including the Libor rigging case in which the bank agreed to pay U.S. authorities a $2.5 billion fine in 2015 to settle allegations it manipulated the benchmark interest rate for profit. The bank also agreed to a $7.2 billion settlement with the Department of Justice for its role in the 2008 financial crisis.

Deutsche Bank is one of several companies facing a trial on criminal cartel charges in Australia, and it has been investigated by U.S. authorities for its role in a Malaysian development fraud scandal as well. Congress has also subpoenaed the bank for its relationship with former President Donald Trump as part of an investigation into potential ties with foreign governments or money laundering.

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2. U.S. Postal Service
> Industry Delivery
> Country: United States

As Americans send less mail, the revenue the U.S. Postal Service generates has declined. The USPS has operated at a loss since 2006. The government agency is not technically out to make a profit, but it used to generate billions in revenue. The USPS was also at the center of a partisan political divide in August 2020, with then-President Trump saying he blocked federal funding to the agency to discourage the use of mail-in ballots for the 2020 elections.

The USPS is one of four in the delivery industry to rank among the 25 least admired companies in the world. No other industry appears as frequently.

Source: Drew Angerer / Getty Images

1. JCPenney
> Industry General merchandisers
> Country: United States

JCPenney ranks as the world’s least admired company, according to Fortune and Korn Ferry’s survey. It has been in dire financial straits for many years. The company filed for bankruptcy protection in May 2020, blaming the COVID-19 pandemic for its most recent financial predicament, but the retailer had only turned a profit in five quarters over the prior nine years. More than 150 JCPenney locations have closed in the past year, and the company plans to shutter more in 2021.