At No. 2 on this roster is SMBC Nikko Securities’ Koichi Niwa, who secured the same spot the past two years. Covering 16 domestic insurance and nonbank financials names, the 40-year-old analyst garners particular praise for his June downgrade of Tokyo’s T&D Holdings from outperform to neutral. The life insurer’s shares had soared 34.1 percent during the preceding 12 months, to ¥1,893.50, leading the broad domestic market by 2 percentage points, and he deemed it overvalued. Moreover, Niwa expressed doubts about management’s growth strategy. T&D stock subsequently plummeted to ¥1,070, as of mid-March, losing 43.5 percent during a period in which its Japanese peers as a whole dropped 20.8 percent. “His analyses are stable and reliable,” declares one investor. Going forward, he prefers T&D rival Japan Post Insurance Co., which went public in November, as part of the world’s largest IPO in 2015. Parent company Japan Post Holdings Co. and its banking and insurance units raised a combined ¥1.44 trillion ($11.9 billion) in their Tokyo Stock Exchange debut. Japan Post Insurance’s stock peaked at ¥3,890 on its second day of trading and had tumbled to ¥2,626 by mid-March, for a loss of 32.5 percent, compared with the broad domestic market’s 14.3 percent decline. Even so, the shares could soar to ¥4,000 by year end, the researcher contends, thanks to its high dividend yield and the executive team’s expansion plans. “Niwa-san provides careful earnings estimates, but more risk-taking would be appreciated,” observes another client.