Strategy & Economics: Equity Strategy
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Strategy & Economics: Equity Strategy

Masatoshi Kikuchi vaults from runner-up to finish in first place for the first time.

Masatoshi Kikuchi BofA Merrill Lynch

second team Hajime Kitano J.P. Morgan

third team Tsutomu Fujita Citi

Masatoshi Kikuchi vaults from runner-up to finish in first place for the first time. The BofA strategist told clients at the start of last year that the benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average, then at 8,859.56, would soar to 11,000 by summer. His reasoning? As governments in China, the U.S. and elsewhere adopted economic stimulus packages, demand for Japanese exports would rise. He was right; industrial production began to rebound in the second quarter. In late August, when the Nikkei hit 10,639.71, Kikuchi said that was the peak for the year. Right again. Kikuchi “is by far both the most prolific and the most creative Japanese strategist,” cheers one investor. The 47-year-old researcher earned an MBA at Cornell University in 1991 and worked in the economic research department at Daiwa Institute before joining Merrill Lynch in 2000.

Supporters say J.P. Morgan’s Hajime Kitano, in second place for a second straight year, delivers “consistent, diary-­like research notes,” and “his logic is very clear and punchy.” In March 2009, Kitano said concerns about a protracted recession were overstated, and he predicted that equity prices, which were just then starting to rise, would break through the four-month barrier that defines a bear market rally. He was right. The Nikkei reported gains for six consecutive months, from March through August.

After two years in first place, ­Tsutomu ­Fujita falls to third. In January 2009, the Citi strategist predicted that global equities would swing upward between April and June on the back of government fiscal policies, and he stressed that Japanese stocks would outperform in the rebound. He was right. Global equities first began to climb in early March 2009; the MSCI all-­country world index gained 16.4 percent, in local currency terms, from April through year-end. During the same period the MSCI Japan index shot up 20.1 percent.


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