Japan Is the Most Exciting Market in the World
Kanebridge News
    HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $1,613,207 (-0.60%)       Melbourne $969,484 (-0.54%)       Brisbane $991,125 (-0.15%)       Adelaide $906,278 (+1.12%)       Perth $892,773 (+0.03%)       Hobart $726,294 (-0.04%)       Darwin $657,141 (-1.18%)       Canberra $1,003,818 (-0.83%)       National $1,045,092 (-0.37%)                UNIT MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $754,460 (+0.43%)       Melbourne $495,941 (+0.11%)       Brisbane $587,365 (+0.63%)       Adelaide $442,425 (-2.43%)       Perth $461,417 (+0.53%)       Hobart $511,031 (+0.36%)       Darwin $373,250 (+2.98%)       Canberra $492,184 (-1.10%)       National $537,029 (+0.15%)                HOUSES FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 9,787 (-116)       Melbourne 14,236 (+55)       Brisbane 8,139 (+64)       Adelaide 2,166 (-18)       Perth 5,782 (+59)       Hobart 1,221 (+5)       Darwin 279 (+4)       Canberra 924 (+36)       National 42,534 (+89)                UNITS FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 8,638 (-81)       Melbourne 8,327 (-30)       Brisbane 1,728 (-19)       Adelaide 415 (+10)       Perth 1,444 (+2)       Hobart 201 (-10)       Darwin 392 (-7)       Canberra 1,004 (-14)       National 22,149 (-149)                HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $820 (+$20)       Melbourne $620 ($0)       Brisbane $630 (-$5)       Adelaide $615 (+$5)       Perth $675 ($0)       Hobart $560 (+$10)       Darwin $700 ($0)       Canberra $680 ($0)       National $670 (+$4)                UNIT MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $750 ($0)       Melbourne $590 (-$5)       Brisbane $630 (+$5)       Adelaide $505 (-$5)       Perth $620 (-$10)       Hobart $460 (-$10)       Darwin $580 (+$20)       Canberra $550 ($0)       National $597 (-$)                HOUSES FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 6,197 (+313)       Melbourne 6,580 (-5)       Brisbane 4,403 (-85)       Adelaide 1,545 (-44)       Perth 2,951 (+71)       Hobart 398 (-13)       Darwin 97 (+4)       Canberra 643 (+11)       National 22,814 (+252)                UNITS FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 10,884 (-22)       Melbourne 6,312 (0)       Brisbane 2,285 (-54)       Adelaide 357 (-14)       Perth 783 (-14)       Hobart 129 (-14)       Darwin 132 (+6)       Canberra 831 (+15)       National 21,713 (-97)                HOUSE ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND       Sydney 2.64% (↑)      Melbourne 3.33% (↑)        Brisbane 3.31% (↓)       Adelaide 3.53% (↓)       Perth 3.93% (↓)     Hobart 4.01% (↑)      Darwin 5.54% (↑)      Canberra 3.52% (↑)      National 3.34% (↑)             UNIT ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND         Sydney 5.17% (↓)       Melbourne 6.19% (↓)     Brisbane 5.58% (↑)      Adelaide 5.94% (↑)        Perth 6.99% (↓)       Hobart 4.68% (↓)     Darwin 8.08% (↑)      Canberra 5.81% (↑)        National 5.78% (↓)            HOUSE RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND       Sydney 0.8% (↑)      Melbourne 0.7% (↑)      Brisbane 0.7% (↑)      Adelaide 0.4% (↑)      Perth 0.4% (↑)      Hobart 0.9% (↑)      Darwin 0.8% (↑)      Canberra 1.0% (↑)      National 0.7% (↑)             UNIT RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND       Sydney 0.9% (↑)      Melbourne 1.1% (↑)      Brisbane 1.0% (↑)      Adelaide 0.5% (↑)      Perth 0.5% (↑)      Hobart 1.4% (↑)      Darwin 1.7% (↑)      Canberra 1.4% (↑)      National 1.1% (↑)             AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL HOUSES AND TREND         Sydney 29.8 (↓)     Melbourne 31.7 (↑)      Brisbane 30.6 (↑)        Adelaide 25.2 (↓)       Perth 35.2 (↓)     Hobart 35.1 (↑)      Darwin 44.2 (↑)        Canberra 31.5 (↓)     National 32.9 (↑)             AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL UNITS AND TREND         Sydney 29.7 (↓)       Melbourne 30.5 (↓)     Brisbane 27.8 (↑)        Adelaide 22.8 (↓)     Perth 38.4 (↑)        Hobart 37.5 (↓)       Darwin 37.3 (↓)       Canberra 40.5 (↓)       National 33.1 (↓)           
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Japan Is the Most Exciting Market in the World

Warren Buffett’s visit in the spring highlighted the value, and stocks are up 20% since March

By JAMES MACKINTOSH
Thu, Oct 5, 2023 9:54amGrey Clock 4 min

There are conflicting stories to tell about investing in Japan at the moment, and annoyingly both appear to be correct.

The first is that the stock market is on fire, producing the best returns of any major developed country since the start of last year as foreigners wake up to the new shareholder-friendly approach of government, stock exchange and corporate boards.

Billionaire Warren Buffett’s visit and positive comments in the spring highlighted the value of venturing to the country, and stocks are up more than 20% since late March as foreign cash poured in.

The second is that all the work has been done by the collapsing yen, and in dollar terms Japanese stocks have performed almost exactly like the S&P 500.

I’m convinced by both stories, which is tricky. Under the first, I’ve long thought that Japan is shifting more toward market capitalism (even as the U.S. appears to be moving away from it).

The reform process that began with the third of the “three arrows” of Abenomics a decade ago is finally bearing fruit, as directors increasingly focus on profitability, run down cash piles and put investors first. There is still a long way to go (the barbarians remain mostly outside the gate) but buybacks, hostile takeovers and pushy investors getting their way are no longer impossible.

It isn’t just that the government, takeover panel and stock exchange are trying to create a friendly environment for shareholders. As Peter Tasker, co-founder and chief strategist of Arcus Investment, points out, they are pushing at an open door.

Companies overall have net cash, freeing them from the obligations to banks that made them focus on their lenders rather than their shareholders.

Incipient inflation—still supported by negative interest rates at the Bank of Japan—makes holding cash less attractive. The ageing population has created a permanent labor shortage. This makes layoffs politically easier since jettisoned workers can find new work quickly. And the desire of the U.S. and Europe to reduce dependence on China makes Japan’s manufacturing base and Pacific location attractive.

“I see a confluence of the incentives for investors put in place by the authorities and the position of Japan geopolitically as being very important, particularly as the yen is so cheap,” Tasker says.

The very cheapness of the yen is the problem, though. Since the start of last year, gains for Japanese stocks over and above the S&P have come only when the yen weakens—which it has done in high style. The currency is approaching 150 yen to the dollar again, worrying policy makers who intervened last year for the first time since 2011 to protect the level. This week, Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki warned of possible intervention although insisted that it is sharp moves in the yen, not the currency’s level, that the government cares about.

It is natural that Japanese stocks should gain as the currency weakens, since the biggest are global companies such as Toyota Motor and Sony Group that earn much of their revenue overseas. The problem is that when the yen’s moves are stripped out, the Japanese market has matched the U.S. almost perfectly.

This makes it doubly hard to be bullish on Japan in the short run. If the currency strengthens, stocks should fall. And the currency is likely to strengthen if and when the central bank pulls back from super-easy policies in the face of rising inflation (core consumer prices are rising at the highest rate since 1992, before deflation set in).

Worse, it’s really hard to see why Japanese stocks have performed like the S&P, given the huge differences between the two markets. Investors shouldn’t invest in things they don’t understand, and the tight link between the performance of the broadly diversified Japanese market and the tech-dominated, top-heavy S&P is a puzzle.

Maybe it is driven by index and futures traders throwing billions around while ignoring individual stocks, thus creating great opportunities for stock pickers. But this is impossible to prove, and the alternative theory is blind luck, not a great basis for an investment.

One twist to my concerns is that perhaps it’s good that Japan has only matched the U.S. for the past couple of years, because it means many investors haven’t yet bought into the idea that Japan is fixing its stock market. For those of us who think there is a long-lasting change under way in Japan, that means there is still plenty of buyers out there who will eventually join in.

That shows up in stock valuations. Tasker calculates that almost half the benchmark Topix index trades at less than book value, while the index has a forward price/earnings ratio of 14 times, against 18 for the S&P.

True, it’s no longer the screaming bargain it was at below 11 times before Abenomics began, or around 12 earlier this year when Buffett visited Tokyo and said he might increase already-hefty holdings in the country’s trading houses (which have all outperformed the broader market since). But it is at least much cheaper than the U.S.

Japan has plenty of long-run economic challenges, not least a huge government debt load and among the world’s worst demographics, as well as a reliance on central-bank financing. The puzzling link between its stock market and the S&P gives me pause for thought, too.

But for the medium to long run, so long as macroeconomic disaster is averted, the shift toward market capitalism ought to lead to better-run companies that are worth more.



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The Top 10 highest paid CEOs of the ASX 200 revealed

Along with pay rates, the latest report from the ACSI shows bonuses are no longer based on exceptional results

By Bronwyn Allen
Tue, Jul 23, 2024 2 min

The CEOs of the ASX 200 were paid a little less in FY23 compared to the year before, but bonuses appear to have become the norm rather than a reward for outstanding results, according to the Australia Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI). ACSI has released its 23rd annual report documenting the CEOs’ realised pay, which combines base salaries, bonuses and other incentives.

The highest-paid CEO among Australian-domiciled ASX 200 companies in FY23 was Greg Goodman of Goodman Group, with realised pay of $27.34 million. Goodman Group is the ASX 200’s largest real estate investment trust (REIT) with a global portfolio of $80.5 billion in assets. The highest-paid CEO among foreign-domiciled ASX 200 companies was Mick Farrell of ResMed with realised pay of $47.58 million. ResMed manufactures CPAP machines to treat sleep apnoea.

The realised pay for the CEOs of the largest 100 companies by market capitalisation fell marginally from a median of $3.93 million in FY22 to $3.87 million in FY23. This is the lowest median in the 10 years since ACSI began basing its report on realised pay data. The median realised pay for the CEOs of the next largest 100 companies also fell from $2.1million to $1.95 million.

However, 192 of the ASX 200 CEOs took home a bonus, and Ed John, ACSI’s executive manager of stewardship, is concerned that bonuses are becoming “a given”.

“At a time when companies are focused on productivity and performance, it is critical that bonuses are only paid for exceptional outcomes,” Mr John said. He added that boards should set performance thresholds for CEO bonuses at appropriate levels.

ACSI said the slightly lower median realised pay of ASX 200 CEOs indicated greater scrutiny from shareholders was having an impact. There was a record 41 strike votes against executive pay at ASX 300 annual general meetings (AGMs) in 2023. This indicated an increasing number of shareholders were feeling unhappy with the executive pay levels at the companies in which they were invested.

A strike vote means 25 percent or more of shareholders voted against a company’s remuneration report. If a second strike vote is recorded at the next AGM, shareholders can vote to force the directors to stand for re-election.

10 highest-paid ASX 200 CEOs in FY23

1. Mick Farrell, ResMed, $47.58 million*
2. Robert Thomson, News Corporation, $41.53 million*
3. Greg Goodman, Goodman Group, $27.34 million
4. Shemara Wikramanayake, Macquarie Group, $25.32 million
5. Mike Henry, BHP Group, $19.68 million
6. Matt Comyn, Commonwealth Bank, $10.52 million
7. Jakob Stausholm, Rio Tinto, $10.47 million
8. Rob Scott, Wesfarmers, $9.57 million
9. Ron Delia, Amcor, $9.33 million*
10. Colin Goldschmidt, Sonic Healthcare, $8.35 million

Source: ACSI. Foreign-domiciled ASX 200 companies*

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