Offbeat The Buffett Effect: Are Japan Stocks Worth Looking Again?

05:05  22 october  2020
05:05  22 october  2020 Source:   finanzen.net

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Japanese stocks are currently enjoying increased interest from foreign investors. This is primarily due to two personalities - the Japanese Prime Minister and one of the greatest stock market legends: Warren Buffett himself.

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• Interest in Japanese stocks increased again

• Buffett investment increases attractiveness

• Hurdles remain, however

According to "Bloomberg", Japan is the third largest stock exchange in the world. This has recently received increased attention. Two men who are anything but unknown took care of it.

Political change in Japan brings momentum

Yoshihide Suga was recently elected as the new Prime Minister. The 71-year-old is already known from the previous government. And already in his only one-month term in office, he made progress in keeping his election promises. Small, achievable goals make this possible. One of them is a "digital transformation", reports "Bloomberg". The public sector should become more efficient and less paper-heavy. The government is setting up a "digital agency", they say. The focus is on speed. Suga's government is also more dynamic when it comes to economic aid. A package worth 40 trillion yen was reportedly called for, and an extraordinary parliamentary session will follow on Monday.

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"Foreign investors are being brainwashed to believe that stability in Japan does not mean progress, and that is just wrong," said John Vail, chief global strategist at Nikko Asset Management in Tokyo, to Bloomberg. "All of his goals seem to be going in the right direction." Compared to other markets, Japan does not have to grapple with the effects of a polarizing election, an allegedly hard Brexit or a trade war.

Attention boost: Warren Buffett invests in Japan

But it is not only the political upheaval in Japan that is currently making the country interesting for investors. Stock market guru Warren Buffett attracted much more attention. At the end of August, its conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway announced investments in five Japanese companies. The shares in Mitsubishi , Itochu , Marubeni , Mitsui & Co. and Sumitomo each amount to slightly more than five percent and were at times worth six billion US dollars. "I'm very excited that Berkshire Hathaway will be part of Japan's future," said Buffett.

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Since Buffett's investments are considered a seal of approval, Berkshire's stake in Japan aroused the interest of foreign investors. In the first full week of October, around 13.5 billion US dollars flowed from overseas into Japanese stocks - according to "Bloomberg" this is the highest value in 18 months. "That Buffett is taking a step is a strong signal for many Western investors, especially value investors, that Japan is potentially one of the markets with the highest discounts," Nick Schmitz, Japan portfolio manager at Verdad Advisers in Boston, told " Bloomberg ".

Japanese stocks - worth a look?

Investors often focus primarily on stocks from the USA or their home countries. For investors who have not yet dealt with Japanese companies, Buffett's investment could have been a subtle indication that it could be worthwhile investments. Because even Buffett changed an old opinion with his investment this year: In a speech from 1988, the stock market guru criticized the low returns of Japanese companies and the management levels. "If you didn't like Japanese stocks before Buffett invested, you need to at least take a look - if not the overall market, then at least trading companies," Bloomberg quoted Thomas Hayes, chairman of New York-based Long-Short - Stock Manager Great Hill Capital.

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Buffett runs Berkshire Hathaway, which owns more than 60 companies, including insurer Geico, battery maker Duracell and restaurant chain Dairy Queen. The son of a U.S. congressman, he first bought stock at age 11 and first filed taxes at age 13.

And whoever found the country and its stocks interesting before, could now be encouraged by the political changes: "Suga's rise to prime minister tells us that if you used to like Japanese stocks, you will now love them too", so Hayes. And Goldman Sachs also sees potential: In a report from the beginning of October, the investment house sees an outperformance in Japanese stocks at best.

Concerns remain - tailwind is weakening

But Buffett's old concerns are not necessarily all off the table. Although Japan is coping with the pandemic relatively well and the balance sheets can be considered healthy, the liquidity of many small caps is still classified as thin, reports "Bloomberg". In addition, the market lacks other relevant catalysts that could continue the upswing. Domestic investors, however, are confident and expect a lot from their new Prime Minister Suga: Over the past month, stocks have risen every week, even as foreign investors pulled out, according to Bloomberg. "Perhaps the biggest benefit from Buffett's investment will be the impact it makes on domestic investors," Vail said. Japan does not need foreign investors to recover. Finanzen.net

Japan Needs to Cut its Coal Addiction to Meet Climate Pledge .
Japan will need to more than quadruple the pace at which it shuts down coal plants and rapidly ramp up renewable energy capacity over the next decade to meet its new climate pledge to zero out emissions by 2050. New Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Monday confirmed that the world’s fifth largest emitter and third biggest economy will become the latest country to set a goal in line with the Paris Agreement to limit global warming.

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