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2016 All-Japan Research Team: OTC & Small Companies, No. 1: Mariko Watanabe

All-Japan Research Team Hall of Famer Mariko Watanabe celebrates her 11th No. 1 finish and ninth in a row.

Mariko Watanabe
UBS
First-Place Appearances: 11

Total Appearances: 13

Analyst Debut: 2003

All-Japan Research Team Hall of Famer Mariko Watanabe celebrates her 11th No. 1 finish and ninth in a row. Going back to 2005, the UBS analyst has topped this roster every year the sector has produced publishable results. Praised for “always finding growing companies no one else covers,” as one portfolio manager puts it, Watanabe tracks 25 Japanese stocks, three more than a year ago. One of those new names is Anicom Holdings, a Tokyo-based pet insurance provider. She initiated coverage in July with a buy rating, thanks largely to its strong growth momentum and limited competition. Anicom closed at ¥2,868 in mid-March, up 37.1 percent over the life of the call and ahead of the domestic sector by 47.7 percentage points. It remains a top Watanabe pick, pegged at ¥4,000. She also recommends that investors buy shares of Tokyo’s Park24 Co. In December the researcher hiked her rating on the garage operator and parkings services supplier from neutral, crediting the growth potential of its new car-sharing business. By the middle of last month, the stock had climbed 11.8 percent, to ¥2,880, leading its Japanese peers by 20.8 percentage points. She foresees a further rise to ¥3,300. “Unlike most small-cap analysts, she follows up on her companies and can explain everything that’s going on in the global space,” asserts another ally. “I just hope she takes care of herself as well as she takes care of her clients!”


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