MINING and healthcare stocks are high on the list of companies and their chief executives most admired by Australia's top fund managers.
The latest annual East Coles survey of fund managers has named the finalists across 15 categories, including best company, best chief executive and best focus on shareholder value.
Risk management, investor relations and best board are some of the other categories.
The East Coles survey, published exclusively in BusinessDay, is based on interviews with analysts across the nation's biggest institutional brokerages and some of the largest fund managers, which collectively oversee equity investments running into hundreds of billions of dollars. The interviews took place over the past two months.
Among those vying for best chief executive are Greg Kilmister of the commercial laboratory specialist ALS Ltd (previously known as Campbell Bros), Coca-Cola Amatil's Terry Davis, and Brian McNamee, the outgoing chief of CSL.
After his first year in the role, Commonwealth Bank's Ian Narev is the only chief executive of a big bank to make the top 10 among favoured CEOs.
The effective boards have also been ranked. Woolworths, where the long-running chairman James Strong has recently stepped down, is in the top 10. The David Gonski-chaired Coca-Cola Amatil and Paul Ramsay-led Ramsay Health Care also make the final list. The online employment search website Seek and Amcor are among the top boards as well.
Financial market specialists also ranked companies they regarded as having the best growth prospects. The final top 10 was dominated by mining companies, despite commodity prices pulling back in recent months.
The exploration company Perseus Mining and fellow gold miner Regis Resources featured among the finalists. Others included the healthcare group ResMed and the building materials operator James Hardie Industries.
Commonwealth Bank was the only financial stock to feature in the top 10 best companies. BHP Billiton, which was a finalist last year, was noticeably absent after its shares underperformed the broader market.
ALS, which was last year's best company, was among the best company finalists for the second year running.
The sharemarket favourite CSL and the engineering group Monadelphous also made the final cut.
The winners will be announced at a ceremony in Sydney next Thursday.
2012 EAST COLES CORPORATE PERFORMANCE FINALISTS
ALS Greg Kilmister
Coca-Cola Terry Davis
Commonwealth Bank Ian Narev
CSL Brian McNamee
Ramsay Health Care Chris Rex
Seek Andrew Bassat
Woolworths Grant OBrien
Best Growth Prospects
James Hardie Industries