Some companies treat their shareholders like gold -- except when it comes to their stock's performance. And some market-beating winners can't be bothered to align themselves with their investors' interests. Somewhere in between, you'll find a truly happy medium: top-flight companies that also treat their shareholders with respect.

Institutional Shareholder Services -- the big name in corporate proxies -- measures how well a company performs in as many as 63 categories, covering four broad areas. Moreover, each company is scored relative to its market index and its industry group. ISS assigns the stocks a rating that it calls its "corporate governance quotient," or CGQ.

Some evidence supports the notion that companies with weaker governance face higher risk, decreased profitability, and lower valuations. Today, we'll examine stocks that Motley Fool CAPS investors have marked to outperform the market, and which also sport above-average CGQ scores, either in their index group or among industry peers.

Company

CAPS Rating (out of 5 max)

Index CGQ Ranking*

Industry CGQ Ranking*

Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK-A)

*****

87.8%

53.3%

Coeur D'Alene Mines (NYSE:CDE)

****

76.4%

59.6%

EMC (NYSE:EMC)

*****

74.5%

97.2%

General Electric (NYSE:GE)

****

59.3%

91.1%

Huntsman (NYSE:HUN)

****

82.9%

66.1%

Source: Yahoo! Finance, Motley Fool CAPS.
*Relative placement when compared with companies in index or industry. Higher is better.

Although finding good companies and holding them for the long term is one of the greatest secrets to success in investing, there are many factors an investor should consider. How well a company treats shareholders shouldn't be least among them. Consider these rankings one way to gauge how these businesses stack up against one another relative to their shareholder policies.

Go to the head of the class
Not that long ago, the markets were questioning Coeur D'Alene Mines' financial footing, debasing its shares along with those of fellow silver and gold miners Silver Wheaton (NYSE:SLW) and Goldcorp (NYSE:GG). At the time, Coeur's CEO Dennis Wheeler assured Fool analyst Chris Barker that his company neither needed nor would pursue additional lines of credit, even as it was completing its capital investment in a two-year growth program that culminated in its Palmarejo mine in Mexico.

While the short sellers who controlled a slug of stock may have gloated for a few months late last year, Coeur D'Alene has since struck gold. Shares have nearly quadrupled off their November lows. The miner's first-quarter results were also rich: Net income improved 30%, to $6.1 million. Although its silver production rose markedly, revenue fell 13% since gold and silver prices were lower than they were a year ago. This year, Coeur's new mines are expected to lead to a 66% increase in silver production and an 85% increase in gold production.

CAPS member nibs61 took a look at those production expectation numbers:

This company has made all the right moves and their mines are producing at 66% growth rate for Silver and 85% for Gold. They are also the best at producing thier ounces at the lowest prices. 2009 will be a exceptional year for them and when inflation kicks in after all the goverment spending the demand for these presious metals is going to go through the roof.

A Foolish quotient
Many factors go into whether a stock is a buy or a sell. Do corporate governance policies enter into your equation? It pays to start your own research on these stocks on Motley Fool CAPS. Read a company's financial reports, scrutinize key data and charts, and examine the comments your fellow investors have made -- all from a stock's CAPS page.

Berkshire Hathaway is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation and an Inside Value selection, and the Fool owns shares of it. Try any of our Foolish newsletters free for 30 days

Fool contributor Rich Duprey owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and Huntsman but does not have a financial position in any of the other stocks mentioned in this article. You can see his holdings here. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy is as strong as tempered steel.