Wal-Mart’s own weight, perhaps, has caused it to slide down the list of Fortune Magazine’s “America’s Most Admired Companies” list. For the past several years, Wal-Mart has been the #1 Darling on Fortune’s Admired list. Keep in mind that Wal-Mart and Fortune magazine have a unique relationship. It was Fortune magazine which came up with the idea of developing a Sam Walton autobiography, “Made In America.” A senior editor at Fortune wrote the book with Sam Walton, and got the cover credit “with John Huey.” So seldom is heard a discouraging word about Wal-Mart in the pages of Fortune magazine. But a survey is a survey, and the giant from Bentonville tumbled off its perch and down the list to #4 Admired Company this year. But also keep in mind the source of this list of “admired” companies: the magazine does not poll people on the street, nor workers in the companies themeselves. No, this is a list of 15,000 executives, directors, and securities analysts. What these Wall Street insiders find admirable might freeze a polar bear’s lips. Wal-Mart did not drop on the list because of its increasingly untenable relationship with its own workers, and the seemingly endless list of lawsuits filed by its own “associates.” Fortune gave Wal-Mart a “Thanks Anyway” award, noting “it was less popular last year among shareholders. The stock returned just .5% in 2004, lagging behind the S&P by more than ten points.” Finally, note that soon Fortune magazine will release a list of this year’s “100 Best Companies To Work For”, and in all likelihood, Wal-Mart will again not even make that list at all — because the workers are the ones who nominate companies for that list. With all of its labor turmoil, it’s hard even for Fortune magazine to find a way to put Wal-Mart on any “Best Place To Work” list.
Wal-Mart continues to rank #1 on Sprawl-Busters’ “Most Reviled Retailer Award” list. This is based on an unscientific survey from communities that contact sprawl-busters to complain about the giant retailer. We receive more complaints about Wal-Mart than any other retailer in the world, and the negative ratings are climbing higher every year. For earlier stories of Wal-Mart and Fortune Magazine’s puff list, search this database by “Fortune.”