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Barron’s reports that institutional investors have returned Apple to its number one slot in its annual ranking of the world’s most respected companies, after it was beaten last year by Berkshire Hathaway.

Apple topped this year’s ranking by scoring 3.94, giving it a wide margin of victory. Berkshire scored 3.58, and the mean was 2.37. Apple received the highest number of Highly Respect votes …

Berkshire Hathaway moved to the number two slot, ahead of Boeing and Google in third and fourth places.

Apple has taken top billing in the annual money managers’ survey in four of the past five years. Barron’s said that “Apple’s iPhones, iPads, and Mac computers have enhanced the lives of billions” and that investors were impressed by “a dividend hike, stock buybacks, and a 7-for-1 stock split.”

Apple is of course no stranger to awards, topping the J.D. Powers smartphone satisfaction awards back in April, and doing the same with tablets in May. Apple was also rated most valuable Silicon Valley brand, though it lost top billing to Google in Millward Brown’s annual calculation of the most valuable brands.

Fortune found a similar view amongst Wall Street analysts, with almost two-thirds of them setting price targets above $100 a share (equivalent to $700 prior to the stock-split).  The largest increase seen was by BTIG’s Walter Piecyk, who said that new plans by Verizon and AT&T would allow iPhone owners to upgrade in the fall for no up-front cost.

We expect AT&T’s new Mobile Share Value plan to increase the percentage of AT&T post-paid subscriber base eligible to upgrade to over 65% by the time the next iPhone launches. In absolute terms that is the difference between 10 or 11 million eligible for upgrades and 45-50 million.

Only four of the 24 analysts surveyed by Fortune expected the share price to fall.

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Photo credit: Buck Ennis, crainsnewyork.com