And now, the moment you've been waiting for. Welcome, investors, to the Fool Awards 2007 show!
As my Foolish colleague Katrina Chan previously reported, we did our best to get Britney to play a tune for you today, but to no avail. Our second choice, Jay-Z, also declined. So with our musical entertainment playing hooky, let's proceed straight to the main event.
As you'll recall, we offered up 10 categories of competition for your Foolish consideration this year. More than 2,350 of you voted, and now we have the results. (Click on the title links to see the full list of contestants for each category.)
It's official, folks: Warren Buffett is the most popular man in America -- or at least in the parts that Fools frequent. In capturing 34% of the vote, Berkshire Hathaway's (NYSE: BRK-B ) boss narrowly edged out Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL ) Steve Jobs (with 32%). But perhaps more significantly, Team Buffett dominated the field and won every category save one (keep reading to find out the exception) in which either Buffett, Berkshire, or a Berkshire subsidiary competed.
Case in point: When it came to the most shareholder-friendly company in America, more than twice as many of you voted for Berkshire Hathaway as for competitor Costco (Nasdaq: COST ) . Berkshire won 41% of the vote.
Most Socially Responsible Company
Fortunately for the competition, Berkshire didn't compete in this category. Whole Foods (Nasdaq: WFMI ) took the gold here, with investors preferring its "natural" foods over runner-up Starbucks' (Nasdaq: SBUX ) fair-trade brew. With 30% of the vote, Whole Foods decaffeinated its rival by a 2-to-1 showing.
Investor of the Year
You saw this one coming, right? Buffett wins again, with 41% of the vote, in another 2-to-1 margin of victory. The surprise runner-up here: John Mauldin -- advisor to the hedge-fund stars, president of Millennium Wave Advisors, and author of the Thoughts From the Frontline weekly newsletter. What makes Mauldin a worthy second to the Oracle of Omaha? Read his May 2006 interview with the Fool (parts one, two, and three) and find out.
Rare is the moppet who awakes Christmas morning in hopes of finding a brightly wrapped reinsurance contract sitting under the tree. Were that the case, I suspect that Berkshire Hathaway would have won this category, too. As it happened, none of Berkshire's products was nominated for "hottest brand." What did get nominated, and won 33% of your votes, was Apple's sleek iPhone. Nintendo's wand-waving Wii took second place with 25%.
Best Money-Management Tool
When it comes to money management, specific beats general. Intuit's Quicken edged out the amorphous concept of "the online banking system," 27% to 24%.
Best Marketing Campaign
Among our Foolish public, 29% declared "I'm a Mac" the winner. Turning then to next-best MasterCard, they attached the number "22%" to its "Priceless" ad campaign. (Incidentally, this was the one category Berkshire failed to capture, as Fools gave Geico's "Caveman" commercials Cavemen-like ratings.)
Best Customer Service
Speaking of prices, 22% of you liked it that Nordstrom offers a complimentary "Personal Touch" personal-shopper service with no minimum purchase required. But that wasn't quite good enough to beat Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN ) , with its 30-day money back guarantee, 30-day price guarantee, and par-excellence community-feedback database. Amazon took the prize with 27% of the votes.
Giving Berkshire a run for its money as we entered the home stretch, Apple and its brands claimed a third and final Fool award in this category. On the back of the same iPhone that won Apple the award for "Hottest Brand," Apple beat out I-can-do-anything Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) , 31% to 22%.
Most Overall Foolish
But this three-and-three tie finally broke in the category "Most Overall Foolish," when Berkshire Hathaway scored its fourth and final victory. iMacs and iPods and iPhones (oh my!) are nice and all. But it seems they merit only second place when up against a stock that's increased tremendously over its history. And so, Berkshire Hathaway reigns supreme, with a victory over Apple in this category, 24% to 18%.
Of course, I can't close this column having anyone feeling like a loser. While we had many winners this year, it's perhaps even more important to note that every one of the companies and people we nominated enjoyed considerable support among the voting public. So to this year's third-, fourth-, and fifth-place finishers, be you named Selim Bassoul or Buffalo Wild Wings, Carl Icahn or Chipotle, we love you all, too, and we wish you the best in 2008.