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Why Apple Inc. (AAPL) Isn’t Among the 25 Best Companies in America: Google Inc (GOOG), Microsoft Corporation (MSFT)

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How is it possible to have a list of The 25 Best Companies in America without Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) being included? Surely there must be something drastically wrong with such a list.

We can see why readers might be confused that Apple is not on there. Our aim was to analyze over 1,700 companies to see how they addressed the interests of various stakeholders, including investors, customers, employees, and the world at large. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) actually ranked quite high using our methodology, but we ultimately decided against including it in the top 25. Below are some arguments for and against Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) as one of the best companies in America.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)The case for Apple
As the largest tech company on the planet, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) hardly needs an introduction. The company makes Macs, iPhones, iPads, and iPods. Apple sees its products as a way to reach people and make their lives better. In a recent interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, CEO Tim Cook said, “In creating these great products we focus on enriching people’s lives — a higher cause for the product.”

It’s always been Apple’s belief that it can make a better product by integrating hardware and software in order to offer differentiated devices.

According to Glassdoor’s 2013 rankings of best places to work, Apple ranked No. 34. That was a notable drop from the No. 10 spot it earned in 2012, which was an improvement from the No. 20 spot in 2011. Cook has earned a 94% approval rating among employees posting on the site, which is down from the 97% rating he received when he became CEO in 2011. Interestingly, that was actually higher than the 95% rating that Steve Jobs had.

Universum’s 2012 poll on where college grads want to work ranked Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) No. 2, just behind search giant and mobile rival Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG).

Apple goes to great lengths to satisfy its loyal customer base. The whole purpose of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) Retail stores has always been to improve the shopping experience leading up to the purchase as well as provide ongoing support after the purchase.

The company consistently scores well in consumer satisfaction surveys. Apple scored No. 1 in J.D. Power and Associates 2012 U.S. tablet satisfaction study, narrowly beating, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) and its Kindle Fire, while also topping the same researcher’s 2012 U.S. smartphone satisfaction study for the 8th consecutive year. The American Customer Satisfaction Index also ranked Apple No. 1 within the PC industry for the ninth consecutive year in customer satisfaction in 2012, maintaining a healthy lead over Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows PCs.

Under CEO Tim Cook, Apple has made a lot of progress with becoming more shareholder-friendly. Cook’s overall compensation packages are immeasurably higher than Steve Jobs’ famous $1 annual total compensation package, but Cook is also effectively performing both CEO and COO duties now since Apple did not hire a new COO once Cook become CEO.

Additionally, it’s largely thanks to Cook that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) finally re-initiated a dividend after a 17-year hiatus, currently paying $2.65 quarterly for a 2.2% yield. Along with the dividend, Cook implemented a $10 billion share repurchase program and was upfront that the purpose was primarily to neutralize dilution from equity compensation. These are two important changes that Cook is responsible for that directly benefit shareholders.

Does Apple make the world a better place?
Just weeks after becoming CEO, Cook put in place a charitable donation matching program, matching up to $10,000 of an employee’s personal donations to a non-profit of their choice. Steve Jobs had axed the program when returning to Apple in 1997 to restore profitability, but never brought it back even as Apple’s fortunes rose. Apple recently donated $2.5 million to the American Red Cross for Hurricane Sandy relief. What Jobs lacked in public philanthropy, Cook is helping make up for by making Apple more charitable.

Few technology companies put such high priority on sustainability and environmentalism. The company goes to great lengths to measure its environmental impacts and reduce its carbon footprint. That can mean everything from building the largest private solar array in the country to help power its North Carolina data center to focusing on the energy efficiency of its products and meeting the latest EPEAT and Energy Star requirements. The North Carolina data center has earned LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, the highest possible rating and uncommon for data centers of this size.

The company also prepares detailed environmental reports on all of its products. Former Vice President and environmental activist Al Gore sits on Apple’s board of directors.

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