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The 2014 All-Japan Research Team: Beverages, Food & Tobacco, No. 1: Naomi Takagi

< The 2014 All-Japan Research Team
Naomi Takagi
UBS
First-Place Appearances: 4

Total Appearances: 7

Analyst Debut: 2008

Naomi Takagi of UBS extends her reign at the top of this lineup to a third straight year; she was also No. 1 in 2010. Investors continue to cheer the depth and detail of her research, as well as the accuracy of her forecasting and her integrity in quickly relaying market events regardless of whether they support her positions. The 46-year-old analyst "has a clear understanding of both the earnings drivers and corporate cost structures of companies she covers," one client offers. "She is honest and not at all political." Despite gaining 5 percent in the 12 months through mid-March, Japan's beverages, food and tobacco shares trailed the broad market by 6.7 percentage points. Takagi reports on 12 of those names and advises that her sector is clearly divided between winners and losers, with the primary factor tipping a company to one side or the other being its management's ability to balance diluted purchasing power from a weakened yen with a constraint on passing price increases on to consumers. This year "the cost increase will be easing, we can see gradual price increases in the industry, and the margin will be recovering," she says. "The major issues are in the growth strategy." Against this backdrop, her top pick is Tokyo-based Suntory Beverage & Food, an international soft-drinks vendor that is enjoying "strong top-line growth, better cost management and growth prospects in the overseas market," Takagi notes. SBF's shares were trading at ¥3,575 in mid-March; her target price is ¥4,100.

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