MINING and healthcare stocks were 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.
Other categories including risk management, investor relations and best board.
The East Coles survey, published exclusively in BusinessDay, is based on interviews from analysts across the nation's biggest institutional brokerages and some of the largest fund managers, which collectively oversee investments in equities running into the hundreds of billions of dollars. The interviews took place over the past two months.
Among those vying for best chief executive is Greg Kilmister of commercial laboratory specialist ALS Ltd (previously known as Campbell Bros), Coca-Cola Amatil's Terry Davis and Brian McNamee, the outgoing chief of biotech company 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.
Effective boards have also been ranked, with Woolworths - which has just seen long-running chairman James Strong step down - emerging in the top 10.
The David Gonski-chaired Coca-Cola Amatil and Paul Ramsay-chaired Ramsay Health Care also make the final list.
Online employment search website Seek and Amcor made the finalists of top boards.
Financial market specialists also ranked companies they regard as having the best growth prospects. The final top 10 was dominated by mining companies, despite commodity prices pulling back in recent months.
Explorer Perseus Mining and fellow goldminer Regis Resources featured in the finalist list.
Others include healthcare group ResMed and building materials operator James Hardie Industries.
Commonwealth Bank was the only financial stock to feature in the top 10 for best company.
BHP Billiton, which made the finalists last year, was noticeably absent after seeing its shares underperform the broader market.
Last year's best company winner - ALS - made the finalist list for best company for the second year running.
Sharemarket favourite CSL and engineering group Monadelphous also made the final cut among best companies.
The winners are set to be announced at a ceremony in Sydney on Thursday, December 13, with the full list of the finalists available on theage.com.au/business.
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