The companies everyone love to hate.

Bad company ratingsIt seems that there are certain companies people like to criticize all the time. One that I’ve heard quite a bit of grumbling about in recent months is Comcast.

Now comes along a report from 24/7 Wall St, an equity investment data aggregator and investment firm, which has compiled a list of the “Ten Most Hated” companies in America.

Its list is based on reviewing a variety of qualitative and quantitative attributes. Companies were examined based on total return to shareholders in comparison to the broader market plus competitors in the same sectors.

Financial analyst opinions on publicly held companies were also reviewed, as well as findings from consumer surveys conducted by diverse sources (the University of Michigan’s American Customer Satisfaction Index, Consumer Reports, J.D. Power & Associates, ForeSee, etc.)

Also evaluated was the Flame Index, which uses an algorithm to review ~12,000 websites to rank companies based on the frequency of negative words and terms associated with them.

Lastly, an analysis of media coverage to determine the extent of negative and positive news coverage was conducted.

Stripping away such quasi-governmental agencies as the U.S. Post Office, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, it leaves us with an interesting list of the “worst of the worst.”

Some of the companies that made the 24/7 Wall St list – and the reasons for them achieving the dubious honor – include:

American Airlines – Not only has this airline filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, it’s rated the worst airline for customer service. It’s performing at or near the bottom of the heap on attributes like on-time departures, flight cancellations, and baggage handling problems. American Airlines’ University of Michigan ACS index of 63 is dramatically lower than Southwest – the industry’s leader which scored an 81 on the index.

Facebook – This behemoth may claim a user base of 800 million+, but that doesn’t stop people from having major grievances with the company. A recent customer satisfaction survey conducted by IBOPE Zogby found that ~30% of users consider Facebook’s customer service to be “poor.” (Anyone who has ever actually tried to interface with the company might be tempted to ask, “What customer service?” Facebook has also received negative press coverage for sneakily instituting, with no warning, privacy settings that change how it shares personal information with others.

Best Buy – This company is still smarting over self-inflicted problems during the holiday season when it ran out of popular merchandise it sold online … then neglected to inform buyers of the fact until just two days before Christmas. The retailer’s explanations (excuses?) seemed lame. It’s one reason ForeSee dropped Best Buy from being the second-ranked company for retail satisfaction prior to the holiday season (just behind Amazon). Now Best Buy is ranked so poorly, it no longer appears among the Top 20 national retailers. To make matters worse, Forbes magazine predicts that Best Buy is a prime candidate for simply disappearing … the only question is whether it will happen before or after Sears/Kmart bites the dust.

Netflix – Here’s a company that’s gone from the “highest of the high” to the “lowest of the low” in one fell swoop. Instituting dramatically higher pricing in August 2011 resulted in the rapid loss of more than 800,000 Netflix subscribers … accompanied by the company’s stock price plummeting 30% from over $300 per share to $215 in under six months (and more than 60% for the full year).

Johnson & Johnson – When an iconic brand like J&J can manage to have a slew of two dozen product recalls over a two-year period – including with Motrin and Children’s Tylenol – it’s bound to have a dramatic impact on company performance and reputation. The FDA took over three Tylenol plants in March 2011, and OTC drug sales are off double digits compared to the previous year. While J&J’s stock price hasn’t tanked in the event, it has remained flat – which is horrendous performance compared to the rest of the pharma industry.

For the record, the five other companies named to 24/7 Wall St.’s “Ten Worst” list were:

 AT&T
 Bank of America
 Goldman Sachs
 Nokia
 Sears

… And I’m sure all of us can think of reasons why these also gained entry onto the “rogue’s gallery” of corporations.

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