Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The World's Most Valuable Brands. Apple, Google, and IBM Take the Lead.

Reuters news agency has released a list of the world's most valuable brands. The annual BrandZ study reveals that Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) now leads its rivals Microsoft and Google by a wide margin. The iPad maker's brand is now worth an estimated $153 billion dollars, which amounts to about half of the company's market capitalization. Simply put, consumers are now far more apt to pay more for many of Apple's products due to the company's brand name recognition.

Like most successful luxury brands, Apple has been able to use higher prices to reinforce the value of the brand in the consumer's eyes. Hype and effective marketing of its products have now left consumers clamouring for every new gadget or device the company releases, which has allowed the company to reap profit margins in the range of 20 - 30 % after taxes and all other expenses have been paid. That is a healthy margin that leaves the company with lots of room for shareholders to breathe.

The Top Brands by Value:

1. Apple
2. Google
3. IBM
4. McDonald's
5. Microsoft
6. Coca-Cola
7. AT&T
8. Marlboro
9. China Mobile
10. General Electric

Clearly, technology companies dominate the ranking this year, with old stalwarts like McDonald's, Coke, Marlboro, and GE rounding out the rest. 

Why cigarette maker Marlboro? There are still many loyal cigarette consumers in North America and Europe, and though it is declining slowly here, the popularity of smoking is booming in Asia, where there is often a fascination for everything American. The same is very much the case for McDonald's, which is seeing a rise in the value of its brand as Asian consumers develop a taste for unhealthy fast-food of the North-American variety.

As a shareholder or investor, it is always important to pay close attention to the brand awareness of consumers. Brands provide a moat, or a defensive wall around your business that is often very powerful at preventing competitors from stealing away your customers.

Happy Investing and be sure to own some top brands in your portfolio's. 

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