Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. is the world's fifth most admired company, according to rankings just released by FORTUNE Magazine in its Oct. 2 issue. The company advanced from seventh last year, when it debuted on the magazine's list.

Wal-Mart moved higher on the prestigious list on the strength of its management (third), long-term investment value (second) and use of assets (third).

"We are pleased to be recognized as an admired international company," said Lee Scott, president and chief executive officer of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. "But the respect we care most about is that of our customers, associates and communities. They are the ones responsible for our success."

One reason for Wal-Mart's success is its ability to train and develop its 1.1 million associates worldwide. For example, more than 65 percent of Wal-Mart's managers began as hourly associates.

In addition, the company's guiding principles; respect the individual, satisfy the customer and strive for excellence -- have sustained its culture throughout a time of significant international growth.

To complete the list of the world's most admired companies, FORTUNE consulted the business executives who run companies and the analysts who study them. Global companies were rated according to nine criteria: quality of management; quality of products or services; innovativeness; long-term investment value; financial soundness; ability to attract, develop and retain talent; community responsibility; use of corporate assets; and global business acumen. A company's overall ranking is the average of the scores of all nine attributes. Companies are ranked within their industry, and the top 25,the All-Stars,are culled from across all industry groups.

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. operates more than 2,560 stores and nearly 470 SAM'S Clubs in the United States, as well as more than 1,000 units internationally. The company employs more than 1.1 million associates worldwide. Last year the company raised and donated more than $163 million to charitable and educational organizations nationwide through the Wal-Mart / SAM'S Club Foundation.