Bringing you live news and features since 2006 

Hermes Global Equities team favours Japanese equities


Geir Lode, Head of Hermes Global Equities, and Lewis Grant, Senior Portfolio Manager, have recently increased their allocation to Japan after becoming more bullish on the country’s prospects at the expense of the US.

A year ago, they were much more positive about the US, as the market was still enjoying an environment of extremely loose monetary policy. “Fast forward to today, we believe the strength of the US dollar and the coming tightening will be significant headwinds for US companies. On the other hand, Japan presents a compelling investment case and we have been increasing our focus on this market based on the following five reasons” they write.
Valuations are up there as the first reason why they favour Japan. “The TOPIX is currently trading at about 15.5x forward earnings, while the S&P 500 is more like 17.5x.” they write. However, earnings growth expectations in Japan are much higher than the US. “We expect 15 per cent earnings growth in Japan over the next year, while we feel it will be high-single digits in the US.  We have seen a lot of US-based multinationals tested during the Q1 earnings season.”
 In terms of investor sentiment, Lode and Grant believe the signs are positive for Japanese equities right now. “Firstly, the Bank of Japan (BOJ) has been aggressive purchasing stock funds in recent months. Secondly, domestic Japanese investors are investing back into the equity market. Finally, we are seeing strong flows internationally.”
There has been a lot of discussion about the impact of Abenomics on the falling yen. “It has proved to be an effective policy, but we expect the yen to be much more stable over the next 12 to 18 months. Indeed, the BOJ is now more concerned about the yen becoming too weak. We believe it has reached levels where concerns over the yen are overstated” they write.

“While the Yen was strong from 2008 to 2012 Japanese companies were forced to restructure to stay competitive. Exports have risen moderately and domestic consumption is rising. Compared to three years ago, Japanese stocks now also have the strong tailwinds of the weak currency and lower energy costs. These factors make the investment case for Japanese equities far more compelling. For example, we have a big holding in Toyota, which might be a boring name, but it has an attractive valuation and we feel it will benefit from ongoing restructuring and recovery.”
 The change in attitude towards corporate governance in Japan is significant as the country is finally taking corporate governance seriously. “It has introduced stewardship codes and undertaken a lot of work on the governance side, which has historically been a major concern.”
This has not always been the case. Lode and Grant write: “Japan’s stance in this area has led many international investors to believe Japan was not a shareholder-friendly destination. Our process has a real focus on positive corporate governance. We have undertaken research showing companies with poor standards of governance have historically underperformed peers. While Japan still lags Western peers, it is positively changing and we are looking to play this structural change through our portfolio.”

Latest News

Saving and investing app, Moneybox, has doubled the number of ETFs available on the platform, in the light of ‘growing..
Global X ETFs has announced the appointment of Ryan O'Connor as its Chief Executive Officer effective as of April 8, 2024. ..
Value-driven structured credit investing firm, Angel Oak Capital Advisors, LLC, has announced the completed conversions of two of its mutual..
Confidence in the continuing strength of bitcoin and Ethereum is driving wider interest in altcoins and other digital assets, according..

Related Articles

Graham MacKenzie, Toronto Stock Exchange
The evolution of ETFs has been a multi-decade experience for Toronto Stock Exchange says Graham MacKenzie, managing director, Exchange Traded...
Frank Koudelka, State Street Global Services
ETF data provider and ETF Express data partner, Trackinsight, has published its Global ETF Survey 2024 Report: ‘50+ Charts on...
Matteo Greco, Research Analyst at Fineqia International writes that bitcoin (BTC) ended the week at approximately USD52,150, showing a notable...
US Distribution Awards trophies
The winners of the first US ETF Distribution Awards at the Exchange conference, hosted by ETF Express and sponsored by...
Subscribe to the ETF Express newsletter

Subscribe for access to our weekly newsletter, newsletter archive, updates on the site and exclusive email content.

Marketing by