Just ask transportation company Burlington Northern Santa Fe, which was selected in a recent survey by portfolio managers and investment analysts as having the most outstanding investor relations program among Standard & Poor's 500 companies. According to those surveyed by research and consulting firm Greenwich Associates, compliance with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act had helped the winning companies to distinguish themselves with more transparent accounting, more accurate financial guidance and more timely guidance. The other companies in the Greenwich top 10: EOG Resources, Entergy Corp., Chicago Mercantile Exchange, J.C. Penney, United Technologies, Staples, C.R. Bard, Gilead Sciences and AFLAC.

Each analyst polled was asked to evaluate the companies that they cover on 12 qualitative factors, including the capability and credibility of senior management, the transparency of accounting information, the quality of investor meetings and the accessibility of senior management. "This is not a popularity contest," emphasizes Greenwich Associates consultant Bill Bruno. "From the buy side perspective, as an analyst, you can't afford to have hot spots, meaning areas that catch you by surprise."

This was Greenwich Associates' third annual IR survey based on phone interviews with more than 750 analysts at 250 U.S. investment institutions conducted between January and March 2007.

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