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Sectors: Banks

Hironari Nozaki Citi

second teamAkira Takai Daiwa

third teamNana Otsuki UBS

The past year has been very difficult for Japan’s banks. In the 12 months through February, the sector fell 22.1 percent, while the country’s broad market gained 5.6 percent. No analyst did a better job of steering clients through these rough waters than Citi’s Hironari Nozaki, who captures the crown for a seventh year running. Nozaki, 46, “has long experience covering the banking sector, and his track record gives him a lot of credibility,” observes one buy-side backer. The analyst told investors to buy shares of Resona Holdings in October, at ¥1,009, on the belief that the market failed to value the quality and strength of the bank’s capital position. Through February the stock climbed 6.4 percent, to ¥1,074, and outpaced the sector by 10.6 points.

Daiwa’s Akira Takai, who rises one rung to second place, publishes “detail-­oriented research pretty frequently, complete with comments and earnings results,” cheers one advocate. Winning calls include valuation-­based downgrades to neutral in October on Chuo ­Mitsui Trust Holdings and Sumitomo Trust & Banking Co.. The stocks slid 5.6 and 1.2 percent, respectively, while the sector fell 4.3 percent, through February.

Newcomer Nana ­Otsuki of UBS claims third-place honors. “She focuses on the balance sheet and not just the profit-­and-loss statement, so you get a more-­detailed view of the capitalization of loans and quality of the books,” explains one satisfied booster. ­Otsuki down­graded Mitsu­bishi UFJ Financial Group to neutral in May, at ¥592, on concerns that the bank might be in need of equity refinancing to meet capital requirements. The stock had slid to ¥449 by the end of February.

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