CSL beats the board to win best company and chief

VACCINE maker CSL has been rated the best-performing company by Australia's top fund managers and equity analysts.

VACCINE maker CSL has been rated the best-performing company by Australia's top fund managers and equity analysts.

The biotech firm, which has posted market gains of more than 70 per cent this year, has been the most sought-after stock for investors, according to the annual East Coles survey of fund managers.

CSL performed strongly across more than two dozen categories that sharemarket professionals look for to help them make a decision about investing in a company. It also emerged with the top spot overall for best company and its chief executive, Brian McNamee, was rated the best chief executive.

Beverage group Coca-Cola Amatil was rated second in the best company category, followed by hospital operator Ramsay Health Care.

CSL's chief financial officer, Gordon Naylor, said the results reflected its long-term approach.

"The organisation is pretty focused on what it does, and has been over a long period of time," Mr Naylor said on Friday.

"At the end of the day, you need to understand what you do," he said.

CSL, which was privatised by the federal government more than two decades ago, had maintained its focus on patients even as its footprint moved from the local to the global market, Mr Naylor said.

"That ethos of technical excellence is still there. We understand the importance of our medicines for our patients. These are life-saving medicines, they're not discretionary products."

In terms of shareholder returns over the past year, CSL ranks among market leaders. Even faced with production in two of the highest currency economies of Australia and Switzerland, CSL reported its first $US1 billion profit, on $US4.6 billion of revenue. CSL shares easily outperformed the S&P/ASX200 index, which rose 14.2 per cent over the same period.

The East Coles survey, published exclusively in BusinessDay, is based on interviews with analysts from the biggest institutional brokerages and some of the largest fund managers. The interviews took place over the past two months. The survey covers 21 categories, including shareholder value, risk management and investor relations.

Coca-Cola Amatil's board, led by David Gonksi, took the top spot for most effective board.

Commonwealth Bank was the only banking stock to make the finalist of best companies. Its chief executive, Ian Narev, emerged as the only bank boss to make the top 10.

Still, banks rated highly across several categories, including best chief financial officer with Westpac veteran Phil Coffey taking the top spot. Other areas where banks dominated were best investor relations (Westpac) and best investor briefings (ANZ).

The big resource houses were notably absent, although BHP Billiton had the best website.

Goldminer Regis Resources was in the top three in several categories.

The full list can be found at smh.com.au/business

2012 BMW EAST COLES CORPORATE PERFORMANCE WINNERS

BEST COMPANY

CSL

Coca-Cola Amatil

Ramsay Health Care

BEST CHIEF EXECUTIVE

CSL — Brian McNamee

ALS — Greg Kilmister

Monadelphous Group — Robert Velletri

MOST EFFECTIVE BOARD

Coca-Cola Amatil

CSL

Seek

COMPANIES WITH THE BEST EARNINGS QUALITY

Coca-Cola Amatil

CSL

Ramsay Health Care

BEST GROWTH PROSPECTS

CSL

Regis Resources

Ramsay Health Care

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