Ready for a little good news? Try this: It may be a little beleaguered, but there's still a real economy out there where companies make things like communications gear and medicine and jet engines. And even in a period when things like toxic credit default swaps and noxious structured investment vehicles dominate the conversation in many parts of the deal community, people are still willing to take the time to recognize skill and achievement in the strategic transactions that help those companies adapt and grow.
That was one big thing we learned from launching our inaugural Most Admired Corporate Dealmakers survey on Sept. 22, just as the financial crisis grew truly dire. Though responses fell short of the projections we made when we began work on the project a year earlier, they still numbered a statistically significant 250, with more than 100 Deal readers evaluating the candidate companies in each of the three industry sectors we asked them to look at.
The other big thing we learned, of course, is who the winners are this time around: Cisco Systems Inc. in information technology, Abbott Laboratories in healthcare and General Electric Co. in the industrial sector. The first two sectors also had companies that placed a close second, which we recognized as runners-up: Oracle Corp. and Johnson & Johnson, respectively. In the industrial sector, there was a wider margin between GE and the companies that landed in what was essentially a three-way tie for second.
For a full explanation of the survey, visit Corporate Dealmaker. Follow the links and you'll also get to complete deal lists for each of the 10 U.S.-based, large-cap, transaction-intensive companies in each sector that we asked readers to evaluate. Readers ranked the companies in each sector and also rated them on four dimensions of dealmaking: Overall strategy, quality of the deal team, value and execution. Together, the ranking and the rating determined the results. We worked with a data partner, Standard & Poor's Capital IQ, and a survey firm, Guideline Inc.
As you'll see in their profiles, the corporate development organizations at the winning companies have a lot in common. All of them stress their ability to work closely with business leaders, and all exhibit the mix of readiness and rigor that seems to figure in so many of the most successful transactions we report on.
But there are interesting differences among these companies too, even beyond the obvious ones stemming from their different industries. And readers did not just pick the biggest market-cap gainers in the period of our study, which looked at acquisitions and divestitures closed between Jan. 1, 2005, and June 30, 2008. GE is especially noteworthy in this regard. It's been a difficult half-decade in the stock market for the company -- yet its reputation for deal prowess remains strong. With good reason, from what we can see.
We honored the winners of our survey at a luncheon ceremony in New
York on Nov. 12, a fitting finale to The Deal's annual M&A Outlook
conference. You'll find information about that event -- including photos
and video -- on our Web site as well. And by all means, keep in touch as
we gear up for a bigger survey next year. We think recognizing
achievement in strategic M&A is important, and with your help we
plan to keep doing it for many years to come.