Forget about the NCAA tournament -- it's time once again to create your brackets for The Worst Company in America in 2011. While investors might dismiss this online competition as a harmless way to blow off steam, it can actually provide important clues to how the public perceives a given company -- and how that opinion might affect future profits.
A race to the bottom
The Consumerist, run by the folks from Consumer Reports, has assembled a fascinating slate of corporate match-ups in its online battle to determine the worst of the worst. No-brainer candidates such as BP
I also wondered why Apple
The Consumerist's opening article discussing the match-ups is an entertaining read, describing 2009 "winner" Comcast
When peeves pinch profits
Corporate reputations should matter to investors. While the loyalty of happy customers can be difficult to quantify, unchecked consumer loathing will eventually lead to literal negative sales. Johnson & Johnson
Long-term investors should always keep a close eye on the reputations of the companies they invest in. Rotten corporate behavior often proves profitable in the short run, but in the long term, consumer payback can wreak havoc on misbehaving companies -- and their competitors will stand poised to pounce at the first sign of weakness.
What would you nominate for the worst company in America? Let us know in the comments box below.
Check back at Fool.com every Wednesday and Friday for Alyce Lomax's columns on corporate governance.