Japan’s Market Boom Is Just Getting Started. 2 Big Reasons Why.
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    HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $1,655,505 (-0.06%)       Melbourne $994,898 (+0.02%)       Brisbane $991,841 (+1.33%)       Adelaide $889,373 (+1.26%)       Perth $861,566 (+0.49%)       Hobart $729,893 (-1.65%)       Darwin $669,344 (+0.35%)       Canberra $999,769 (+1.27%)       National $1,055,910 (+0.34%)                UNIT MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $749,436 (-0.10%)       Melbourne $494,327 (+0.46%)       Brisbane $554,094 (+2.77%)       Adelaide $439,361 (-1.14%)       Perth $456,655 (-0.27%)       Hobart $524,871 (-0.43%)       Darwin $349,455 (+1.52%)       Canberra $494,554 (-1.96%)       National $530,871 (+0.07%)                HOUSES FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 10,048 (-72)       Melbourne 14,823 (-272)       Brisbane 7,999 (+9)       Adelaide 2,372 (-66)       Perth 6,238 (-89)       Hobart 1,265 (-29)       Darwin 232 (-6)       Canberra 1,020 (0)       National 43,997 (-525)                UNITS FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 8,719 (-61)       Melbourne 8,033 (-189)       Brisbane 1,615 (-4)       Adelaide 391 (-5)       Perth 1,570 (-29)       Hobart 203 (-10)       Darwin 394 (-6)       Canberra 1,010 (+7)       National 21,935 (-297)                HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $820 ($0)       Melbourne $600 (-$10)       Brisbane $640 ($0)       Adelaide $610 ($0)       Perth $670 ($0)       Hobart $550 ($0)       Darwin $700 ($0)       Canberra $680 ($0)       National $668 (-$1)                UNIT MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $750 (-$25)       Melbourne $550 ($0)       Brisbane $630 ($0)       Adelaide $500 ($0)       Perth $640 (+$13)       Hobart $450 ($0)       Darwin $513 (+$13)       Canberra $570 ($0)       National $589 (-$2)                HOUSES FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 5,497 (+71)       Melbourne 5,818 (+35)       Brisbane 4,141 (+99)       Adelaide 1,399 (0)       Perth 2,377 (+32)       Hobart 400 (+17)       Darwin 111 (+17)       Canberra 604 (+9)       National 20,347 (+280)                UNITS FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 9,083 (+248)       Melbourne 4,637 (+100)       Brisbane 2,182 (-27)       Adelaide 393 (+2)       Perth 731 (-10)       Hobart 130 (-7)       Darwin 144 (-8)       Canberra 684 (+72)       National 17,984 (+370)                HOUSE ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND       Sydney 2.58% (↑)        Melbourne 3.14% (↓)       Brisbane 3.36% (↓)       Adelaide 3.57% (↓)       Perth 4.04% (↓)     Hobart 3.92% (↑)        Darwin 5.44% (↓)       Canberra 3.54% (↓)       National 3.29% (↓)            UNIT ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND         Sydney 5.20% (↓)       Melbourne 5.79% (↓)       Brisbane 5.91% (↓)     Adelaide 5.92% (↑)      Perth 7.29% (↑)      Hobart 4.46% (↑)      Darwin 7.63% (↑)      Canberra 5.99% (↑)        National 5.77% (↓)            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 30.3 (↑)      Melbourne 31.5 (↑)      Brisbane 31.7 (↑)        Adelaide 25.7 (↓)     Perth 35.4 (↑)      Hobart 33.7 (↑)        Darwin 36.2 (↓)     Canberra 32.0 (↑)        National 32.1 (↓)            AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL UNITS AND TREND       Sydney 31.3 (↑)      Melbourne 31.9 (↑)      Brisbane 32.1 (↑)        Adelaide 24.8 (↓)       Perth 38.7 (↓)     Hobart 37.6 (↑)        Darwin 46.5 (↓)     Canberra 39.2 (↑)        National 35.3 (↓)           
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Japan’s Market Boom Is Just Getting Started. 2 Big Reasons Why.

By PATRICK L. SPRINGER
Thu, Apr 11, 2024 9:33amGrey Clock 3 min

About the author: Patrick L. Springer is an institutional-equities business developer and Japan and Asia market specialist. He worked at Morgan Stanley in management roles for more than 20 years.

Japan just concluded a 34-year trek in the wilderness of deflation and ended its nearly 20-year negative interest-rate policy. The stock market has responded by achieving new all-time highs, last seen in 1989, rising 35% in the past year.

This might look like the top, but a closer look at Japan’s market suggests that the end is just the beginning for the world’s third-largest market. This year likely marks the beginning of a multiyear Japan market revival that will start a major new capital markets cycle. Japan’s companies are just beginning to celebrate a long-awaited return of pricing power supported by an enamoured global investor base looking for international ideas in a friendly market.

Investors should focus on two trends. First, new micro and macro forces are at work to make Japan a preferred non-U.S. destination for several years. With the U.S. dollar at 20-year highs, portfolio managers know that it is typically time to diversify and buy cheaper overseas markets, but where to go? Europe is cheap but challenging, and the I of India is what currently remains best of the emerging markets BRICS grouping. Exposure to Asia is important for global portfolios given it is 45% of global gross domestic product. Yet strategists say that we now live in a “multipolar world,” a euphemism for the highest level of geopolitical risks in the world in decades. This limits China investment allocations for now.

But Japan is a pre-eminent security partner for the U.S. Japan also is quickly becoming a key partner in U.S. re-shoring strategies, especially as an alternative supplier of semiconductors and technology components. The re-shoring trend is compounded by the yen’s weakness. At nearly 152 yen to the dollar, Japan’s currency is trading at the lowest ratio since 1990. That means Japan is also likely to regain market share that it lost over the past 20 years to China in automobile components, industrial products, and machinery. Status as a security partner matters to investors now, which will keep allocations to Japan higher for longer.

Second, Japan’s differentiated market structure may provide more alpha-idea opportunities than investors might expect from an older, developed economy. In the U.S., megacaps and the Magnificent Seven rule the world for investors—and for good reason, given their recent outperformance. The high level of exchange-traded fund penetration in the U.S. also favours large-caps over small- and medium-capitalisation stocks. But in Japan, the list of Japan’s largest companies remains unchanged: Excluding SoftBank, all were established pre-1960.

According to Abrdn Investments, 45% of Japan’s benchmark Topix Index of 2000 constituents have no analyst research coverage, compared with just 3% of the Russell 3000 universe for the U.S. As inflation sparks growth, earnings surprises and inflections of Japan’s under researched companies will lead to significantly higher alpha capture opportunities.

Additionally, the Japanese government and the Tokyo Stock Exchange have initiated important corporate-governance reforms, and 26% of all listed companies have submitted specific plans to improve their stock valuation. But many more companies have yet to respond, providing more opportunities for investors.

Sorting Japan’s nearly 3,900 stocks into market segments is revealing. Japanese mid-cap and small-cap stocks have lagged behind large-cap stocks by 40% and 60% year to date, respectively, and have lagged by 25% and 46% on a one-year basis.

Such underperformance by itself is one thing, but for the many investors who have never seen inflation, wage growth, and domestic sales gains in Japan, they may find a discovery universe of new stocks with interesting characteristics such as these:

Organo , a $2 billion market-cap water treatment company that has traded over $60 million a day on some days and counts Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing as one of its key growth customers.

Nakanishi , a $1.5 billion dental-equipment and precision-tools maker that grew sales 23% last year, sports a 2.5% yield and a 24% return on equity, and has 12% of its stock price in net cash.

Chugoku Marine Paints , a global top-three maker of marine paints that has a 20% global share and a 15% return on investment capital, sells at nearly 11 times earnings, and has a 2.6% dividend yield.

Overall, this analysis finds nearly 100 companies with a market cap above $1 billion with net cash equal to 20% or more of their stock price.

The bottom line is that Japan’s culture of innovation, combined with an end to deflation, is likely to produce a new wave of capitalisations. During the decades of deflation, corporates and consumers alike were incentivised to save more, spend less, and underinvest. But with nominal GDP growth now running at a whopping 5% and record wage growth, inflation incentivises new capital investment, stimulating a new investment-banking cycle of financing.

There are risks to this outlook. Double-digit market rallies can lead to pullbacks, and investors need to watch for threats to Japan’s inflation and currency levels and to its appetite for reform. But what’s most important for investors to realise about Japan is how much has changed there, amid a changing world.

Guest commentaries like this one are written by authors outside the Barron’s newsroom. They reflect the perspective and opinions of the authors.



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In Australia, the target inflation band is 2 to 3 percent, with the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) aiming to achieve the midpoint under its new agreement with the Federal Government following a formal review. In its interest rate decision-making, the RBA does not give as much weight to the monthly inflation data because not all prices are measured like they are in the quarterly data. On a quarterly basis, inflation has continued to fall. In the March quarter, the annual rate of inflation was 3.6 percent, down from 4.1 percent in December, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

CBA economist Stephen Wu noted the April data was above the bank’s forecast of 3.5 percent as well as the industrywide consensus forecast of 3.4 percent. He predicts the next leg down in inflation won’t be until the September quarter, when we will see the effects of electricity rebates and a likely smaller minimum wage increase to be announced by the Fair Work Commission next month compared to June 2023.

The most significant contributor to the April inflation rise were housing costs, which rose 4.9 percent on an annual basis. This reflects a continuing rise in weekly rents amid near-record low vacancy rates across the country, as well as significantly higher labour and materials costs which builders are passing on to the buyers of new homes, as well as renovators.

The second biggest contributor was food and non-alcoholic beverages, up 3.8 percent annually, reflecting higher prices for fruit and vegetables in April. The ABS said unfavourable weather led to a reduced supply of berries, bananas and vegetables such as broccoli. The annual rate of inflation for alcohol and tobacco rose by 6.5 percent, and transport rose by 4.2 percent due to higher fuel prices.

Robert Carnell, the Asia Pacific head of research at ING, said they no longer expect a rate cut this year after seeing the April data. Mr Carnell said an increase in trend inflation was apparent and “rate cuts this year look unlikely”. In the RBA’s latest monetary policy statement, published before the April CPI was released, it said: “Inflation is expected to be higher in the near term than previously thought due to the stronger labour market and higher petrol prices. But inflation is still expected to return to the target range in the second half of 2025 and to reach the midpoint in 2026.”

 

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