NEW YORK: Apple, Google and Amazon are the "most admired companies" around the world, according to figures from a new study.

Fortune, the trade publication, and Hay Group, the consultancy, asked 10,000 executives to rate major firms on nine metrics, including product quality, social responsibility, R&D, managerial strength and financial soundness.

Apple headed the charts for the fifth successive year, on 8.42 points, having continued to enjoy booming sales of the iPad and iPhone. Its stock market valuation also surpassed $500bn last month.

Google was second with 7.74 points, and is now focusing on six areas, like search, social media and ads. Some 700,000 mobile devices using its Android operating system are being activated per day, and the Google+ social network has accrued 90m users.

Speaking about Google, Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric, said: "For a ten-year-old company, they've done more things well in ten years than just about anybody that I've ever seen."

Amazon, the ecommerce pioneer, claimed third on 7.45 points, with its Kindle Fire tablet making a real mark in 2011. The organisation was particularly praised for "sacrificing profits in the short term for long-term gains."

"If Amazon continues its rapid pace of redefining their business, they seem poised to be one of those rightly admired companies," said Ursula Burns, CEO of Xerox. "As a user, I see them as a step ahead of everyone else in the ecommerce arena."

Coca-Cola, the soft drinks manufacturer, IBM, the business services provider, FedEx, the delivery specialist, and Berkshire Hathaway, the conglomerate, were also all in the top ten, having been long-term successes here.

"Enduring companies do the 'basics' really well," said John Donahoe, CEO of eBay. "But I think great enduring companies also have organisational 'character' - and exhibit this by not being afraid to face up to adversity and embrace difficult change."

Overall, Apple was regarded as the most innovative and financially sound firm. GDF Suez, the French energy group, led the sustainability contest, and Koç Holding, a Turkish player in the same sector, was seen as possessing the highest-quality services.

McDonald's, the fast food chain, was perceived as making the most effective use of corporate assets, while Gas Natural Fenosa, a Spanish energy company, was described as having the best global competitiveness rating.

The study also showed that, in the last decade, the shareholder returns of the top 50 "most admired" operators hit 7.8%, versus 1.4% for the S&P500 index of corporations, figures reaching 22.6% and 15.1% in 2011.

Data sourced from Fortune; additional content by Warc staff