2016 All-Japan Research Team: Autos, No. 1: Masataka Kunugimoto
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2016 All-Japan Research Team: Autos, No. 1: Masataka Kunugimoto

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Masataka Kunugimoto notches his fifth consecutive appearance on this roster, retaining the No. 1 spot he has held since 2014.

< The 2016 All-Japan Research Team

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Masataka Kunugimoto

Nomura

First-Place Appearances: 3


Total Appearances: 5


Analyst Debut: 2012


Masataka Kunugimoto notches his fifth consecutive appearance on this roster, retaining the No. 1 spot he has held since 2014. Reporting on eight Japanese automakers, one fewer than in the past two years, the Nomura analyst is “very thorough in his research, very clear and easy to understand, and more accurate than the other guys,” attests one Hong Kong–based hedge fund manager. “He makes good calls and has been great on the long side, both on domestic and on Japanese auto companies in China. His long call on Nissan [Motor Co.] has been really good.” Upgraded from neutral to buy in July 2014, on valuation, the Kanagawa-based manufacturer is Kunugimoto’s favorite name in this space. Its shares had advanced 6.8 percent, to ¥1,061, by the middle of last month — outperforming the domestic sector by 12 percentage points — and he projects a further rise to ¥1,550, highlighting in part its attractive dividend, estimated at 4.3 percent. “Nissan will continue to improve its fundamentals in fiscal year 2017 through higher sales in both the U.S. and Japan, coupled with continuing reduction in the cost of goods sold,” the researcher projects. In particular, he foresees the Titan full-size pickup and the Infiniti QX30 — a luxury, compact crossover hatchback — “driving margin improvement.” Kunugimoto, 38, is also recommending that investors buy shares of Aichi-headquartered Toyota Motor Corp., “thanks to its high-quality businesses in the U.S., Japan” and member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, he explains. The company “continues to generate strong profits and free cash flow,” while boasting a “fortress balance sheet.” In addition, compared with the leadership of its domestic competitors, Toyota’s management is proving the most shareholder friendly by paying generous dividends and conducting share buybacks, the researcher notes. His price target of ¥8,300 implies a 41 percent upside to the stock’s value in mid-March.



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