Apple, fresh from its iPad 2 tablet announcement, has been revealed as finishing atop Fortune magazine's annual list of the World's Most Admired Companies for the fourth straight year.

Right on Apple's tail at #2 is Google, which competes with Apple in everything from tablets to smartphones to online music. 

The list, based on a Fortune survey of business people, ranks companies based on attributes such as quality of management, innovativeness (Apple ranked #1 there, too) and long term investment value.

Apple retained its crown thanks in large part to its "blistering pace of new product releases," including the iPad 2, the recently updated MacBook Pro and the anticipated iPhone 5.  It has also continued to deliver excellent financial results, including nearly doubled quarterly profits, and make smart business moves, such as extending the iPhone to Verizon's network.

Runner-up Google has been no slouch, giving Apple a run for the money in the mobile device market thanks to the explosive adoption of Google Android. And Fortune did rank Google ahead of Apple as most admired for "financial soundness."

Other tech companies faring well on the Fortune list:

  • Microsoft, #9, has had a string of hits with Windows 7, the Xbox Kinect gaming system and even the Bing search engine.
  • IBM, #12, which continues to be seen as a tech leader, highlighted recently by the success of its Watson supercomputer on Jeopardy! 
  • Cisco, #28, is in a state of transition as its core switch and router revenue for the first time has been overtaken by revenue at the company from products in new markets such as data centre, collaboration and virtualisation. 
  • Madrid-based Telefonica beat out AT&T and Verizon for most admired telecom company.

Fortune also includes lists of the 10 worst companies in categories such as innovation and product quality, and tech companies avoided showing up on them.

Here's a link to Fortune's complete list of the World's Most Admired Companies.