Mizuho Securities Group’s Tairiku Sakaguchi retains the No. 3 spot on this lineup he first earned in 2014. He follows 15 of Japan’s auto parts names, one more than last year, and impresses one client in New York as “someone who always answers questions well and has a knack for identifying the key points influencing stock prices.” Sakaguchi is recommending that clients buy shares of Tokyo-based Koito Manufacturing Co., a leading producer of head- and taillights, rear combination lamps and other automobile lighting equipment. The supplier has been gaining market share in the headlamps business — particularly in North America, he reports — and now controls some 20 percent of the global supplier market. Its key customers include Japan’s top-three automakers, Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co. In general, he notes, companies in that industry are increasingly using the “higher value-added components” that Koito supplies, such as LED headlights, as the role of improved illumination is being recognized as important to vehicular safety. “We expect to see continued technological advancements in headlamp functionality aimed at improving visibility for the driver,” the 37-year-old researcher says. Moreover, although “auto parts makers find they are constantly under pressure to cut costs and standardize their parts and components,” he adds, “headlamps are one area where manufacturers can focus on design improvements.” Given this environment, Sakaguchi believes that Koito should post “record earnings for the foreseeable future.” He assigns the stock a price objective of ¥5,600, which implies a 15.5 percent upside to its value in mid-March.