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Respectfully Yours, Apple

Rick Aristotle Munarriz
June 25, 2012

Barron's is out with its annual list of the most respected companies, and it's no surprise to see Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) on top.

The world's most valuable tech company lost its visionary CEO, and investors have suffered through a stagnant share price in recent months, but it's nonetheless the right choice to repeat as the world's most respected company. Apple's stock is still trading sharply higher than it was a year ago, and in terms of delivering blowout quarterly results and well-received product rollouts, new CEO Tim Cook hasn't missed a beat.

No disrespect, but ...
Barron's polls professional money managers on the world's 100 largest publicly traded companies, and 116 respondents complied by giving each of the 100 companies one of four "respect score" ratings.

It's not a perfect sample. All but one of the top 24 companies on the final ranked list is American, a byproduct of relying on stateside money managers for their opinions. How many of them truly have an opinion on Colombia's Ecopetrol or Russia's Sberbank Rossia?

There will also naturally be a bias in the opinions. Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A  ) (NYSE: BRK-B  ) , for example, fell from third last year to a surprising No. 15 this year. It's true that the iconic holding company has had a few subpar years lately, and concerns about Warren Buffett's health may also be weighing on opinions.

However, the most likely bandit here -- and it's something that Barron's does realize -- is that Buffett himself didn't make too many friends by advocating that upper-income Americans should be paying more in taxes. When you're a likely affluent money manager guiding investment strategies for affluent clients, the "Buffett tax" isn't going to be very popular.

Big Blue isn't all that blue
Jumping two slots to second place this year is IBM (NYSE: IBM