Koichi Niwa of SMBC Nikko Securities repeats in second place. In reporting on 30 Japanese stocks, the 39-year-old analyst impresses buy-siders with his “timely recommendations and in-depth analyses,” in the words of one fund manager. This fan also singles out for praise Niwa’s long-standing bullishness on Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Holdings, the country’s second-largest property/casualty insurer, by market capitalization, after Tokio Marine Holdings. In June 2013 the researcher noted that this Tokyo-based provider’s earnings were improving and deemed Sompo Japan a likely outperformer, so he elevated his rating on the shares from neutral. By late last month they had rocketed 70.6 percent, to ¥3,767, against the domestic broad market’s rise of 43.5 percent. Over the trailing 12-month period, the stock jumped 48.4 percent, besting its peers by 14.3 percentage points. Sompo Japan remains a top Niwa pick on the strength of increasing premiums for its domestic auto insurance customers and reduced operating expenses in its group nonlife business. “Niwa has made a strong contribution to our investment performance,” declares another ally.