2015 All-Japan Research Team: Technical Materials, No. 1: Akiko Kuwahara
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2015 All-Japan Research Team: Technical Materials, No. 1: Akiko Kuwahara

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In this new category merging the Ceramics & Glass and Paper & Textiles sectors, Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s Akiko Kuwahara takes top honors.

< The 2015 All-Japan Research Team

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Akiko Kuwahara

Bank of America

Merrill Lynch

First-Place Appearances: 5


Total Appearances: 11


Analyst Debut: 2008


In this new category merging the Ceramics & Glass and Paper & Textiles sectors, Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s Akiko Kuwahara takes top honors. She held the No. 3 position on the former lineup the past two years and was No. 1 on the latter roster from 2011 through 2014. Following a dozen companies, Kuwahara, 41, “keeps a finger on the pulse of these industries,” attests one fund manager. Clients particularly applaud her positive stance on Teijin, a Tokyo-based manufacturer of polyester and carbon fibers. In November, when management announced a plan of structural reforms targeting loss-making businesses, she boosted her rating on the shares from neutral to buy. Sure enough, performance improved. Quarter-over-quarter operating income ballooned 69.9 percent, to ¥12.4 billion ($103.4 million), during the three months through December. By late March the stock had leaped 37.6 percent, to ¥406, while the domestic broad market advanced 14.2 percent. The analyst still recommends Teijin, thanks in part to lower raw-materials and fuel costs, with a ¥440 price objective. She also continues to tout Aichi’s NGK Insulators, which makes electronic parts, environmental systems and industrial ceramics products. This long-standing favorite earned an upgrade from neutral to buy in November 2011, at ¥813, and Kuwahara has reiterated her position periodically over the years, crediting growth in NGK’s automotive ceramics unit and the executive team’s reorganization of the electrical-insulation operations. Late last month the shares were trading at ¥2,552, up 20.3 percent during the trailing 12-month period. Over the life of the call, NGK outperformed Japan’s broad market by 94.1 percentage points. She foresees a rise to ¥2,800.



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