Sector by Sector

The essence of Britain's Most Admired Companies is peer review, for the gold standard of analysis is as applicable in business as it is in academe. Here we take an in-depth look at the highs and lows of the 22 industry sectors covered, listing the five top-scoring companies in each.

BANKING 1 HBOS 65.1 2 Royal Bank of Scotland 63.3 3 HSBC 62.7 4 Northern Rock 56.8 5 Barclays 56.0

HBOS takes the laurels in a sector awash with record returns. Interim profits are up to a generous £2.3bn, a sign that the four-year-old merger of Halifax with Bank of Scotland is starting to motor. With CEO James Crosby expected to step aside in favour of 38-year-old Andy Hornby (now COO) next year, City expectations can only rise. Fred 'The Shred' Goodwin's expansion of RBS into new markets continues apace, with the acquisition of a 5% stake in Bank of China for £900m in August. Despite its mammoth £6bn surplus - and the news of Prince William's work experience there - HSBC drops off the top spot for the first time in five years. Fourth-placed Northern Rock may be a minnow in this list, but it's grabbing an ever bigger share of the lucrative mortgage market.

BUILDING MATERIALS & MERCHANTS 1 Wolseley 63.3 2 Pilkington 61.5 3 BPB Industries 60.8 4 Marshalls 60.8 5 Aggregate Industries* 56.0

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