Fortune has rolled out its annual list of the world's most admired companies. There aren't any big surprises among the top five -- four of them made last year's top five -- yet even the winners in this year's roundup are staring down some big challenges in 2009.

1. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) may lose some serious style points if Steve Jobs doesn't come back.

2. Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK-A) (NYSE:BRK-B) just posted its worst annual loss since Warren Buffett arrived 44 years ago.

3. Toyota is in one of the most banged-up sectors out there, with little hope for automakers to celebrate in the near term.

4. Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) normally heady revenue growth decelerated to just 18% this past quarter. That's not too shabby, but the ad market is weakening in 2009.

5. Johnson & Johnson's (NYSE:JNJ) marketing practices are stirring up the wrath of the Department of Justice.

Then again, victory on a ranked list is always relative. Apple and Google are still growing. Meanwhile, Buffett's company shed nearly 10% of its book value last year, but when you compare that to the 37% decline in the S&P 500, this has been Berkshire Hathaway's best year relative to the market since 2002.

Still, investors in these top dogs shouldn't necessarily be sitting comfortably. Apple took over the top spot on Fortune's list two years ago, by unseating General Electric (NYSE:GE) -- the same GE that just slashed its dividend last week for the first time in 71 years. GE spent two years on top of the list, after bumping off Dell (NASDAQ:DELL).

So if Apple is following GE and Dell, does this make the magazine's annual list a jinxed honor, along the lines of being on the cover of Sports Illustrated or Madden video games?

Tread carefully, Apple.

More related headlines to admire:

Johnson & Johnson is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation. Dell and Berkshire Hathaway are Motley Fool Inside Value picks. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Berkshire Hathaway and Apple are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks. The Fool owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz wants to know how many babies he needs to kiss before The Motley Fool cracks into the top 10 list. He owns no shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story and is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy, and it deserves to be admired.