Worried About President Trump and US Stocks? Buy Japan Now

March 11, 2018 by 247lee

Source: Thinkstock
If there has been one thing we have learned since the presidential election, is that we are in an era of extreme partisanship, and the political divide is now about the size of the Grand Canyon. With the U.S. president enacting trade tariffs on Friday, the market response was somewhat muted as he excluded Canada and Mexico. While the president is hardly the first to use tariffs, especially on steel, the partisan rancor is very strong now, and the discourse probably gets even worse as we head to the mid-term elections.

For those who are not a fan of either the president or of U.S. stocks, or both, due to the current political and economic climate, we have an alternative: buy the top Japanese companies that are traded in the United States.

In a recent research report, the team at Jefferies said that Japanese stocks at the margin are still very cheap. They also cited improved corporate governance as a big reason to own stocks there. TheĀ report said this:

Despite a 80% move in the Japanese stock market, Jefferies analyst Zuhair Khan, believes that the market is still attractive as it has risen for fundamental reasons rather than just Bank of Japan monetary stimulus and ETF purchases. While Zuhair runs through a few of the traditional metrics to show that the market is cheap, his real secret sauce is his work on corporate governance which is incredibly powerful.

With dividends doubling, return on equity and book values climbing, it just makes sense to consider owning the top stocks. We found five that make good sense now.

Takeda Pharmaceutical

This top drug company is one of the safer plays for investors. Takeda Pharmaceutical is a Japan-based company engaged in the pharmaceutical business, and its shares are traded over the counter.

Takeda’s Ethical Pharmaceutical segment is engaged in the manufacture and sale of pharmaceutical products, such as therapeutic substances for diabetes, circulatory drugs, anticancer drugs, drugs for central neurological diseases, digestive system drugs, hormonal agents, osteoporosis drugs, antibiotic agents, allergy medications, vitamin drops and vaccines, among others.

The Consumer Healthcare segment manufactures and sells general drugs and medicines, as well as quasi-drugs. The Others segment is involved in the manufacture and sale of reagents, clinical diagnostics and chemical products.

A Wall Street consensus price target in dollars was not available. The OTC shares closed trading on Friday at $26.59.

Sony

This is one of the best-known of Japan stocks, and it is well liked on Wall Street. Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE) designs, develops, manufactures and sells electronic equipment, instruments and devices for consumer, professional and industrial markets worldwide. It offers LCD televisions, optical pickups, mobile phones, tablets, audio equipment and video conference systems, batteries, broadcast and professional-use video equipment, DVD-players/recorders, Blu-ray Disc players and recorders, ROMs, CDs, DVDs and UMD.

Sony also produces, acquires and distributes live-action and animated motion pictures, as well as television programming, including scripted series, daytime serials, game shows, animated series, made for television movies and miniseries, and other programming. It operates a visual effects and animation unit, manages a studio facility and operates television and digital networks.

Shareholders are paid a tiny 0.34% dividend. Merrill Lynch rates the stock a Buy and has a $60 price target on the shares. The Wall Street consensus price objective is higher at $70.06. The stock closed most recently at $51.40 a share.

Honda

This maker of cars and motorcycles has a strong share of the U.S. market. Honda Motor Ltd. (NYSE: HMC) is Japan’s third-largest automaker in terms of sales, and it has the top global market share in the initial motorcycle business. North America is a main earnings source, with autos historically highly regarded in the U.S. market.

Honda has the highest exposure to North American business of Japan’s big three (Toyota, Nissan, Honda), slightly lagging in emerging market expansion, though it recently has been aggressive in emerging markets, too, such as ASEAN or India.

Honda shareholders are paid a solid 2.47% dividend. Merrill Lynch rates the shares at Neutral, along with a $39 price target that is lower than the consensus estimate of $40.80. The stock ended last week at $34.65 per share.

Yamaha

This company makes everything from audio gear to grand pianos to guitars, and its shares trade over the counter. Yamaha is a producer of audio/visual products, semiconductors and other computer-related products, sporting goods, home appliances and furniture, specialty metals, machine tools and industrial robots.

Its Musical Instruments business segment includes the manufacture and sale of pianos; digital musical instruments; wind, string and percussion instruments; and other music-related activities.

The Audio Equipment business segment includes the manufacture and sale of audio products, professional audio equipment, information and telecommunication equipment, and other products.

Its Electronic Devices business segment includes the manufacture and sale of semiconductor products, while the Others segment includes automobile interior components, factory automation equipment, golf products, recreation and other lines of business.

Again, no consensus price target for the share was listed. The OTC shares closed trading on Friday at $43.41 apiece.

Toyota

This foreign company has massive U.S. sales, and also could be a big winner. Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM) is the world’s largest automaker and contends with global leaders VW Group and GM in sales volume.

The US market is its traditional earnings driver, but the company recently starting to tap into emerging markets such as Southeast Asia and India. Toyota has the highest domestic production rates of Japan’s big three (Toyota, Nissan, Honda).

With everything from the hybrid Prius to the luxury Lexus models, the company covers all demographics with products and could also be a winner.

The Merrill Lynch analysts rate the stock Neutral with a $141.39 target. The Wall Street consensus price target is $138.29. The shares closed Friday at $129.70.

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Five of most well-known Japanese companies may often be overlooked by American investors. All have stood the test of timeĀ and will be around for years to come.