NEW YORK: The world's 100 most valuable brands are recovering more quickly from the economic downturn than the companies listed on the S&P 500 as a whole, a new analysis of current trends by Millward Brown has revealed.

Each year, Millward Brown produces an annual ranking of the brands with the highest net worth, BrandZ, the most recent version of which was topped by Google, the online search giant.

The research firm has now reported that the Top 100 brands from this list are "worth 28% more than the S&P 500", and have also "returned to profit ahead of the market."

Similarly, the cumulative share price of this group began to increase in August this year, and was up by 5.6% in early September compared with the total registered in Q2 2006.

By contrast, the combined figure posted by all of the members of the S&P 500 was off by 22.5% at the same point in September compared with the second quarter of 2006, and has been on a largely downward spiral from May 2008.

Moreover, the BrandZ stable has consistently outperformed the S&P 500 for the last three years, indicating the strength of this former group.

Joanna Seddon, ceo of Millward Brown Optimor said the "recession has provided fresh evidence of the tremendous value of brand assets. Over the past year, even when things were at their worst, the BrandZ portfolio outperformed the market."

"As the stock market recovers, the share prices of companies who have invested in developing strong brands are recovering fastest. Companies that continue to invest in their brands in a recession emerge with a sustainable competitive advantage."

Data sourced from Millward Brown; additional content by WARC staff