At No. 2 on this roster for a third year running is SMBC Nikko Securities’ Hiroki Kawashima, who also merits a runner-up position in Housing & Real Estate, marking his first appearance on that lineup. “His analyses are reliable, and I’ve often been impressed by the constructive points he brings up to managements during their earnings calls,” observes one portfolio manager. Investors single out for praise the researcher’s reporting on Shimizu Corp., a Tokyo-based provider of civil engineering and general contracting services. Last April, he raised his rating on the stock from neutral to outperform, citing rising real estate prices, improving construction margins and the builder’s large capacity for leveraging that environment. The shares were then trading at ¥831, and by mid-August they had soared 47.1 percent, to ¥1,222 — while the domestic sector rose 5.4 percent — before being dragged back in a general market sell-off. Even so, in mid-March, Shimizu closed at ¥935, up 13 percent since his upgrade and ahead of its peers by 17.6 percentage points. Kawashima, 42, reports on 29 Japanese companies, two more than a year ago.