Samsung 3rd in U.S. reputation poll

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Samsung 3rd in U.S. reputation poll

Goldman Sachs may need to work on its image. Samsung is doing just fine.

This year, the firm beat recall-riddled General Motors along with Koch Industries and BP for the dubious distinction of worst corporate reputation, according to a new poll.

Market research firm Harris Poll on Wednesday published its 16th annual ranking of the 100 most visible companies in the United States according to how positively the general public viewed them, and Goldman landed at the bottom.

Harris Poll surveyed 27,278 people to generate its list of America’s most- and least-loved corporations. Wegmans, a grocer in Rochester, New York, whose fans write love letters to its stores, claimed first place, followed by Amazon, Samsung, Costco and Johnson & Johnson.

Halliburton, Monsanto, Dish Network and AIG were near the bottom of the list.

The report didn’t speculate on how Goldman earned its helping of hate, but the investment bank has been the subject of derision for its role in the financial crisis, and in 2011 was found by a U.S. Senate panel to have misled clients about its dealings with shaky mortgage-backed securities.

Goldman’s public image has also been battered by insiders, like the executive director who resigned in 2012 by way of a scathing op-ed in the New York Times. More recently, Carmen Segarra, a former bank examiner for the Federal Reserve, released secret recordings to public radio program “This American Life” suggesting the central bank had gone easy on Goldman for a suspicious transaction with a Spanish Bank.

Notably, although few have warmed to AIG and Goldman, overall distaste for the financial industry has eased: The share of Americans looking positively on the industry has increased to 35 percent from 25 percent in 2013.

A bad reputation can affect a company’s bottom line. Harris Poll says 36 percent of adults have decided not to support a business because of something questionable they learned about its conduct. And more than half of consumers now do some research on businesses they’ve either heard about or are about to spend money on. The findings suggest that companies aren’t as immune from moral blunders - be it expired meat or toxic mortgages - as they once might have been.

“The American public strongly believes reputation matters and acts on that belief,” said Carol Gstalder of Harris Poll.

Consumer ill will may not have the effect on Goldman that a few brutal reviews on Yelp has on a mom-and-pop shop, but there’s another unfortunate side effect of being a loathed business behemoth: Research into top business schools shows graduates increasingly passing over Wall Street for careers elsewhere, meaning Goldman, and firms like it, may be missing the talents of some of the brightest would-be financiers.

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