Japanese investors look across market cap

This article is part of
Guide to Japanese equities

Japanese investors look across market cap

Japanese small-caps, as with any country's small cap investments, can provide strong growth opportunities and increase portfolio risk.

Likewise, large-caps can prove good dividend payers and relative security, but can also lack growth opportunities. 

So when it comes to Japan's equity market, which sector is worth paying more attention to, and which funds offer your clients a suitable spread across the market cap spectrum?

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Kwok Chern-Yeh, head of Japanese equities at Aberdeen Asset Management, comments: "We see opportunities to invest in both blue chips and mid to smaller-cap companies, although what we find attractive in one segment can be different from in another.

"For example, a large cap might be a leader in its field with diverse revenue sources and strong global operations, while a mid to small-cap company might have a greater capital appreciation potential.

"The point to make is that investors need to be selective."

Large-cap love

Cyrique Bourbon, portfolio manager at Morningstar's Investment Management group, says: "Investors should allocate to the most attractive parts of the market.

"To us, at this junction, we find attractive valuations in the large-cap value segment, especially relative to large-cap quality and small-mid cap growth offerings. 

"The latter have been well-bid over recent years under Abenomics and therefore less fundamentally attractive."

For Robin Black, investment manager for global equities at Kames Capital, although his fund owns some large-cap blue-chip stocks such as Tokyo Electron, Shimano, Komatsu and Bridgestone, as these are world leaders, he prefers to shift down the market-cap spectrum.

He says: "Our research tends to find more inefficiencies in this market."

Mid-caps are also popular with David Jane, fund manager on Miton's multi-asset range. He comments: "There is more value among the mid-caps, which are less well covered by institutional investors. 

"There are vast numbers of well-run, and strongly capitalised Japanese companies.

"Many of these have cash on their balance sheets and decent returns upon capital. However, while cheap, prices will only rise if there is widespread interest in Japan."

Small is beautiful

Alex Blake, client manager on the Baillie Gifford Japanese equities team, comments: "We invest across the market cap and have dedicated small-cap resource in our Japanese equities team.

"One of the attractions of smaller-cap companies is there is little sell-side coverage which provides an opportunity to investors willing to do their own research."

Nathan Gibbs, client portfolio manager of Japanese equities for Schroders, is also positive about the effect Japanese small-caps can have within an overall long-term investment portfolio.

He says: "Given the relatively inefficient nature of small-cap research in Japan, it is almost always worth delving into small-cap stocks.

"Many of these fall off investors' radars and become undervalued, resulting in significant valuation dispersion within the small-cap universe."

He says that independent, disciplined research into this area of the market can result in high conviction, non-consensus views on individual stocks and this can add more value to investors than remaining entrenched in the large-cap arena.