For a second consecutive year, Shinobu Takeuchi of SMBC Nikko Securities claims the top spot on this lineup. He wins praise from one client for “his broad coverage and reliable opinions.” Another money manager reports that “his timely research adds value to our stock-selection process.” In August the 41-year-old analyst raised his rating on Mitsui Chemicals from neutral to outperform, pointing to an uptick in earnings from specialty products sales and a restructuring of its commodities operations. Shares of the Tokyo-based diversified chemicals provider jumped 41.1 percent through early February — and were leading the domestic sector by 42.9 percentage points — before being dragged back in a broad market sell-off. As of mid-March, Mitsui Chemicals’ stock was down 4.9 percent over the life of the call, at ¥366, but was still ahead of its peers by 5.5 percentage points. It remains a Takeuchi favorite, with a price target of ¥640. Going forward, another preferred name among the 26 he monitors is Kaneka Corp., an Osaka-headquartered manufacturer of food and medicine supplements, fine chemicals, resins and synthetic fibers. The company is enjoying declining materials prices and strong topline growth, particularly from sales of its synthetic-hair products in Africa, he advises. In February he reiterated his price objective of ¥1,400 for the shares, implying a 53.5 percent upside to their value in mid-March.