Mariko Watanabe Credit Suisse
second team Yukinori Oishi Mitsubishi UFJ
third team Ryo Tazaki Nomura
Mariko Watanabe, who joined Credit Suisse from UBS in June, takes top honors for the fifth time in six years. (The sector was not published in 2007.) Watanabe, 42, stands apart from her peers because she tends to start with the big picture and dig into each name which is very rare for small-cap analysts, observes one money manager. In August the analyst recommended Osaka Securities Exchange Co., Japans leading derivatives exchange, citing strong growth prospects. The stock shot up 19.7 percent, from ¥403,000 to ¥482,500, and outperformed the sector by 29 points, through February.
Yukinori Oishi of Mitsubishi UFJ debuts in second place. Oishi urged clients in June to buy Daikokutenbussan Co., at ¥1,551, after the supermarket operator unveiled plans to streamline operations and cut costs. By the end of February, the stock had zipped to ¥2,629, a gain of 69.5 percent.
Unranked last year, Nomuras Ryo Tazaki finishes third. He has continuously found companies which many investors tend to miss but that have huge earnings upside potential, marvels one portfolio manager. Case in point: Tazaki urged clients in July to buy Nabtesco Corp., at ¥1,043, on rising demand for hydraulic equipment. Through February the stock was up 7.1 percent, to ¥1,117, and had bested the small-caps sector by 12.7 points.