This year Mariko Watanabe of UBS earns induction into Institutional Investor’s All-Japan Research Team Hall of Fame, winning her eighth consecutive and tenth overall first-place finish. She is “one of THE best analysts, full stop,” cheers one portfolio manager. Marvels another investor: “Her knowledge is encyclopedic, and she focuses with razor-like precision on the key factors that drive share prices.” In June, Watanabe began reporting on Aichi-based Resorttrust, which runs timeshare resort hotels. She advised clients to buy the stock, citing new property developments, and by late last month it had rocketed 62 percent, to ¥3,220, outperforming the sector by 41 percentage points. Another of the analyst’s preferred names is Sho-Bond Holdings Co., an infrastructure repair contractor and construction materials supplier that is headquartered in Tokyo. When she saw in October that demand was rising in the run-up to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Watanabe elevated Sho-Bond from neutral to buy. In late March the shares were trading at ¥5,240, having gained 25.8 percent since she changed her rating and leading Japan’s small caps by 6.8 percentage points. Looking ahead, she also touts Seria Co. of Gifu. The discount retail chain operator boasts strong return-on-equity and rising gross margins, she explains, and merits a price objective of ¥5,000. Also hailed for her modesty and wry sense of humor, Watanabe simply ”is an absolute rock star,” proclaims a third admirer.