The 2014 All-Japan Research Team: Ceramics & Glass, No. 2: Takaomi Kono
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The 2014 All-Japan Research Team: Ceramics & Glass, No. 2: Takaomi Kono

< The 2014 All-Japan Research Team Takaomi Kono & team Nomura First-place appearances: 0

Total appearances: 3

Team debut: 2012 Nomura researcher Takaomi Kono leaps from runner-up to seize the No. 2 position, winning acclaim for his “in-depth knowledge of the glass business,” in the words of one money manager. That industry has performed poorly since last year as competition in product pricing has squeezed margins for liquid-crystal-display glass, says Kono, who also earns a runner-up spot in Paper & Textiles. “Flat-glass demand levels remain low especially in the European market,” he adds. By contrast, “cement companies’ earnings grew drastically in 2013,” notes the analyst, “thanks to strong demand from the Tohoku region, which is located in the northeastern part of Japan and was damaged by the tsunami and earthquake.” But earnings growth peaked in the fiscal year that ended last month, he believes, and no company in the sector earns a buy rating from Kono. He had long recommended buying Tokyo-based Taiheiyo Cement Corp., which operates in a range of construction materials and environmental industries. But in February he downgraded to neutral, with the shares up 66.5 percent over the preceding 12 months alone, at ¥373, and ahead of the broad market by 44.1 percentage points. Its tsunami-related waste disposal operations were set to conclude in March, and “although I expect their U.S. cement business to recover,” explains Kono, “Taiheiyo’s operating profit will remain flat year over year because of a decline of profit from business in Japan.” In mid-March the stock was trading at ¥360.

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