4 Stocks to Cash in on Japan's Recovery
More than 300 Japanese stocks trade in the U.S. But many are thinly traded, which could mean big gaps between buy and sell prices. For that reason, it’s best to stick with big-name firms if you want to buy individual Japanese stocks.
Companies that derive most of their revenue overseas — such as Canon (symbol CAJ, $35), the camera producer, and tire maker Bridgestone (BRDCY, $72) — will see an immediate lift to earnings because of the weaker yen (prices are as of April 5). Automakers will also benefit from the yen’s fall. Toyota Motor (TM, $107), one of the world’s largest automakers, also boasts one of the most efficient manufacturing processes in the industry. And it has worked hard to diversify its production and sales globally. The stock trades at 14 times estimated year-ahead earnings.
Mega-banks were considered untouchable by investors after the bubble burst in 1990 because they were awash in bad loans. But Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MTU, $7), which runs one of Japan’s biggest banks (the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ), is a favorite stock these days of Taizo Ishida, co-manager of Matthews Japan fund. A big reason is Mitsubishi’s growing market share in the Asian corporate-loan market. While European and U.S. banks were busy licking their wounds after 2008, many firms looking to borrow money had nowhere to go. Enter the Japanese banks. “They’re now dominant in Asia,” says Ishida. Mitsubishi shares trade at only 14 times estimated earnings for the fiscal year that ends next March. Yet analysts expect the company’s earnings to rise 15% annually over the next three to five years.